Former Senator Alerted Artisanal Miners to Ibama Inspection

Ernandes Amorim warns illegal miners in audios to stop activities to prevent equipment loss

Ana Carolina Amaral
São Paulo

Ernandes Amorim, a rancher and councilperson for Ariquemes (RO), warned illegal artisanal miners about an impending Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) inspection, thereby helping them to avoid having their equipment burned. Amorim represented Rondônia in Congress as a senator, between 1995 and 2000, and also as a federal deputy, from 2007 to 2011.

"You can remove the PCs [hydraulic backhoe] from you there; otherwise, they will end up burning it, see?", Amorim said in a WhatsApp group. "A week, three days, won't kill anyone; worse is the damage of losing everything."

Artisanal mining in Mato Grosso. ( Foto: Lalo de Almeida/ Folhapress ) - Lalo de Almeida

Folha listened to 42 audio files, lasting approximately two hours, that were sent between September 19 and October 6 in a WhatsApp group entitled "Mining the Fight Continues". The group's photo has the phrase "gold digger is not a bandit; he is a worker."

"Until day 2, as Vilela says, let's wait," Amorim says in another audio. On October 2, the prospectors would have a meeting with the Minister of the House, Onyx Lorenzoni. According to government officials, the agenda was rescheduled for Tuesday (8).

"You see the shit, how are you, do you want to work in this period? Then what happens?  Did you understand? So you have to pay attention," Amorim said.

The alert refers to the federal government's increased environmental surveillance in September. It was in response to the Amazon burning crisis, which resulted in Ibama's Specialized Inspection Group (GEF). Considered the "elite troop" of environmental oversight, the group was virtually inactive throughout this year.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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