Ibama's office on the Madeira River has been closed for 4 years, since it was set on fire by miners

Four years after being vandalized by miners, the representations of Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) and ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation) in Humaitá (AM), on the banks of the river Timber —the focus of hundreds of illegal mining rafts in recent days— remain closed.

All employees who worked in the offices were transferred to other municipalities after buildings and vehicles belonging to Ibama and ICMBio were set on fire and destroyed in October 2017.

This was a retaliation by the miners after 25 rafts operating in conservation units had been destroyed by federal agents.

This Thursday (25), Vice President Hamilton Mourão announced that the Federal Police and the Navy will act against mining. Via the press office, Ibama said that it will participate in the operation, which will take place “in the coming days”. The agency, however, will not have a local support base.

Without fear of inspection, the garimpo rafts have been operating openly on the Amazonian stretch of the Madeira River, including in front of the Humaitá shore , at 700 km from Manaus. In recent weeks, hundreds of them have been concentrated near Autazes (AM), after the discovery of gold in the region.

The report sought out IBAMA and ICMBio questioning whether there are plans to retake offices in Humaitá , but there was no response until the conclusion of this text.

At the end of 2017, right after the attack, the government of Amazonas granted operating licenses to mine the Madeira River. The MPF (Federal Public Ministry) went to court and got an injunction suspending the authorizations. In August, a new court decision annulled these licenses.

In Rondônia, Governor Colonel Marcos Rocha (PSL) authorized in January the operation of rafts and dredgers for extracting gold on the Madeira River, by means of three licenses and an environmental certificate obtained from Sedam (Secretary of State for Environmental Development).

The measure, however, did not come with a more efficient inspection. Thus, according to people who are closely following the matter, there is a large discrepancy between the number of consultation processes filed and the number of dredgers in operation.

Dredges are larger and more destructive than the ferries, capable of piercing the stony bed of the river. Many of them operate in the Porto Velho region, the capital of Rondônia.

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