Public Ministry recommends emergency repression of mining in the Madeira River, in the Amazon

The MPF (Federal Public Ministry) recommended this Wednesday (24) the emergency adoption of coordinated action to repress and dismantle illegal gold mining in the Madeira River channel and tributaries in Autazes (AM).

According to the recommendation, federal and state agencies and autarchies must act in an integrated manner for the action. The deadline is 24 days.

Hundreds of dredging rafts operated by miners undertake a gold rush on the Madeira River, an important tributary from the Amazon River, sailing for several kilometers while state and federal authorities discuss who is responsible for preventing the illegal action.

The MPF demands measures from the Army, through the Amazon Military Command; the Superintendence of the Federal Police in Amazonas; the Itacoatiara River Agency, the Navy unit in charge of the Madeira River; from Ipaam (Institute for Environmental Protection of Amazonas), from the presidency of Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) and from the superintendence of the ANM (National Mining Agency) in Amazonas.

“Given the scale of the ‘garimpeiro invasion’, the efficient repression of the activity necessarily requires coordinated efforts from different government agencies, each within its attributions, with a prominent role in the repressive and environmental policing activity of the bodies that make up Sisnama (System Environment), Ibama, at the federal level, and Ipaam, at the state level”, states an excerpt of the recommendation. “The coordinated action between all these actors would provide a quick and efficient response to the illegal activity taking place in the municipality of Autazes, with a prominent and coordinating role to be played by environmental agencies, holders of special expertise in combating environmental crimes in the Amazon” .

The bodies must, according to the MPF, identify and fine the irregular mining in operation or with signs of operation in the Madeira gutter or affluents, in addition to adopting measures so that illegal activities are interrupted . If necessary, the recommendation says, the “instruments of crime” must be destroyed.


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Rafts equipped with water pumps are tied together in rows that almost traverse the entire wide river Madeira. A Reuters witness saw exhaust smoke indicating that they are sucking gold into the riverbed.

The MPF initiated an extrajudicial procedure to investigate the alleged mass invasion of miners in the region, which occurred on the day 22 from November. In the recommendation, the Public Ministry cites the images and videos that show the arrival of several dredgers and rafts in the river.

According to the agency, the extraction of gold in the region is not supported by an environmental license issued by the competent environmental authority or by mining title issued by the National Mining Agency, that is, the activity is illegal.

The MPF remembers that in August of this year the Federal Court ordered Ipaam to cancel the licenses illegally granted for the activities of gold extraction in the bed of the Madeira River, in an area of ​​more than 24 thousand hectares, in the southern region of Amazonas. Thus, the mining activity previously supported by irregular licenses must remain paralyzed.

The Madeira River runs about 3.300 km from its source in Bolivia through the forest in Brazil until it flows into the Amazon River.


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