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Gold Miners Defy Police in Search of River Fortune

11/28/2014 - 09h32

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BRUNA MOZER
EDSON SILVA
SPECIAL ENVOYS TO COLOMBIA (SP)

In improvised rafts covered in tarpaulin and powered by a truck's engine illegal miners defy the police in search for diamonds at the bottom of Grande river, on the boundary between the cities of Colombia and Guaraci, on the northwestern part of São Paulo state.

Two boats leave daily on an hour long journey from Colombia across the river towards the "jackpot". Folha saw ten men there.

Years ago, hundreds of boats and over a thousand men worked on the river. Inspections, on top of the difficulty in finding precious stones have driven the number of miners down.

Nonetheless, the activity persists. Among the stories told along the riverbank there is one about a pink Diamond that was found worth over US$ 450,000 (R$1 million).

The authorities consider the activity illegal and on top of that, say that work conditions are faulty. During their time on the river, which can last up to two months, the men live in precarious condition.

If they find a precious stone, they may take home 35% of its value in the black market. The other part goes to the owner of the boat, who nobody is able to say who it is.

None of the miners seen by Folha wanted their identities revealed.

"This is what I do. I don't have a profession", one of them said, and who, at 14, set out for Serra Pelada, in the state of Pará, in the biggest open air mining site in the world.

An investigation by the Prosecution Office resulted in a prosecution in 2007, which still awaits a decision by the Court of Justice.

Translated by CRISTIANE COSTA LIMA

Read the article in the original language

Edson Silva/Folhapress
Illegal miners defy the police in search for diamonds
Illegal miners defy the police in search for diamonds

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