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Gold Rush Leads Many to Conduct Illegal Mining Expedition in the Countryside of Bahia

04/23/2018 - 10h45

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JOÃO PEDRO PITOMBO
FROM SANTALUZ

A new gold rush has been underway. It is taking place in the rural area of Santa Luz, a municipality in the north of Bahia with a population of 38 thousand, 270 kilometers away from state capital Salvador. It all started back in February, having reached its apex in March. Things seem to have reached a saturation point in April.

The kick off point was a gold nugget weighing 804 grams that was discovered by five informal miners underneath the roots of a Mandacaru plant, which typically grows in the region.

The nugget was sold for R$ 93,000 (US$ 27,000) and news of what had happened spread rapidly on the internet. In a few weeks, 2,000 people were already mining in the area. The region's exploration and prospecting rights belong exclusively to Canadian miner Yamana Gold.

The first to come were gold hunters who crossed the country following the emergence of news that precious stones and metals were being mined. For the most part, they were not all that successful, obtaining tiny 1 gram stones, if anything.

Raul Spinassé/Folhapress
Men use metal detector to search for gold
Men use metal detector to search for gold

Currently, however, it's the so-called "faisqueiros" (or "sparkers") who are doing most of the mining, digging the earth in search of chips - or "sparks" - of gold.

One can find just about anything in the region. Vendors can be found selling bottled water and soda to help miners cool off from the heat; Feijoada - the Brazilian bean stew - to keep miners strong; Cachaça - a distilled spirit - to help miners overcome the fatigue and even knockoff perfumes belonging to 'famous' brands.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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