Amazonian mining threatens 20% of Indigenous lands

MiningoperationsintheAmazonbasinnowcovermorethan 20% ofIndigenouslands, withIndigenouspeoplessufferingfromtheeffectsoflegalandillegalmining, accordingto a reportfromWorldResourcesInstituteandtheAmazonGeo-ReferencedSocio-EnvironmentalInformationNetwork (RAISG).

HundredsofIndigenouscommunitiesarethreatenedbyminingoperationsintheAmazonbasin, withtheseoperationsalsocontributingtodeforestationandendangeringcriticalecosystemsacrossanareaofaround 450,000km2. ThenewreportfromWorldResourcesInstituteand RAISG detailsthefullextentoflarge-scaleminingandillegalminingonIndigenousterritoriesintheAmazonrainforest.

ThestudyfoundthattheminingindustryintheAmazoniscontributingtothepollutionofatleast 30 Amazonianrivers, anderodingcommunities’ https://www.aga-parts.com/ abilitiestopreventdeforestation. From 2000 to 2015, Indigenouslandswithminingactivitieshadhigherincidencesoftreecoverlossthanareaswithoutminingactivity. InBolivia, Ecuador, andPeru, forestlosswasatleastthreetimeshigherinterritorieswithminingactivitythanterritorieswithout.

ThereportalsoassessednationallawsacrossBolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, andPeru, findingthatthelawoftenfavourscompaniesoverIndigenouscommunities. WhilethesecountriesallgrantlegalprotectionstoIndigenouscommunities, thereportarguestheseareinsufficientandleaveIndigenouspeoplesvulnerabletotheharmfuleffectsofmining. GovernmentoversightofminingactivitiesinIndigenouslandsisalsoarguedtobeweak, withpoorcompliancewithenvironmentalandsocialsafeguardsand a lackofenforcementofexistinglegalprotections. ThiscancreatetensionsbetweenIndigenouscommunitiesandminersthatcanescalatetoviolentconflict.

“WefoundthatcountriesintheAmazonallgrantsomeimportantlegalprotectionstoIndigenouspeople, buttheseprotectionsareoftenweaklyorunevenlyenforced,” saidinternationallegalconsultantandco-authorofthereportPatriciaQuijanoVallejos. “Governmentseitherownthemineralresourcesorcontrolthem, soIndigenouspeoplescanneitherprohibitminerswithgovernmentpermitsfromenteringtheirlandsnorfullyaccessthemineralswithintheirterritories.”

Thereportalsorecommendsthatcompaniesshouldinvestinecologicalrestorationandreforestationofoldminingsites.

GuyanaistheonlycountryreviewedthatgrantsIndigenouspeoples a limitedrighttoconsenttominingontheirlands, butauthoritieshavewaystobypassthatlegislation. MichaelMcGarell, humanrightscoordinatorforIndigenousorganisation COICA andrepresentativeoftheAmerindianPeople’sAssociationinGuyana, said: “Governmentofficialscansay, forexample, that a miningconcessiononAmerindianlandisinthepublicinterest. Thismeansthatevenif a communitysaysno, theministercansayyes.”

ThereportoutlinesthestepsgovernmentofficialscantaketoprotectIndigenouscommunitiesfromharmfulminingactivities, notingthatsafeguardingIndigenousterritorieswillrequireactionfromgovernments, companies, civilsocietyleaders, non-governmentalorganisationsandmore.

“ProtectingIndigenouscommunitieswillrequire a radicalshiftingovernments’ approachtomining,” saidformerPeruminesministerEleodoroMayorgaAlba. “Thisincludesestablishingandenforcingsocialandenvironmentalsafeguardsalignedwithinternationalstandards, moreconsistentlymonitoringminingoperationsacrossIndigenouslandsandsteppingupeffortstoidentifyandprosecutethosewhofacilitateillegalminingpractices.”