Brazil exported 111 tonnes of gold last year, valued at $ 4.9 billion, mainly to Canada, Switzerland, Poland, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Italy, and India — and 19 tonnes, or 17% of that gold was illegally mined, according to a new study by Instituto Escolhas.
Gold lacking registration or permits was exported mainly by Southeastern states, such as Minas Gerais and São Paulo, the report finds.
“Countries should demand that Brazil implements systems to control these exports and cease to support the destruction of the Amazon rainforest,” said Larissa Rodrigues, product manager at Instituto Escolhas.
The Amazon has more than 4,470 illegal mining sites, more than half of them in Brazil, according to a report published last year by the nonprofit Amazon Geo-Referenced Socio-Environmental Information Network.
Illegal gold and diamond mining are also threatening South America’s largest group of Indigenous peoples who still live in relative isolation, the Yanomami.
Last year, illegal miners devastated an area the size of 500 soccer fields in Yanomami land, according to satellite images, representing a 30% surge in the territory’s deforestation.