Scars of illegal mining blight Brazil's Amazon

Wildcat miners in Brazil are pinning their hopes on a new bill President Jair Bolsonaro has sent to Congress.

The proposed legislation would open up indigenous reservations to commercial mining.

The Amazon is home to protected indigenous communities as well as diverse flora and fauna.

But the land beneath the pristine forest contains valuable minerals - including gold.

And the lust for gold has attracted illegal prospectors in recent decades who have destroyed forests, poisoned rivers and brought fatal diseases to tribes.

Suely Araujo is a public policy specialist for Observatorio Climatico.

"It's an irreversible damage on the environment as a result of illegal mining. In fact, it is very difficult for nature to recover from it. Even with human intervention, the mercury that is used in extraction brings about other problems in public health, especially for those who live in the shores of the river and in the indigenous population."

Despite those effects, the illegal gold mining business in Brazil is booming with miners emboldened by Bolsonaro's election.

A recent report found that nearly 30% of Brazilian gold exports in 2019 and 2020 likely came from illegal mines.

Nearly two-thirds of Brazil's gold exports went to Canada, Switzerland and Great Britain.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting