Lula bans mining on indigenous lands

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Lula bans mining on indigenous lands

As the humanitarian crisis affecting Brazil’s indigenous population makes global headlines, the government is intensifying the fight against illegal mining and has outlawed any related activity in indigenous areas.

Authorities have also blocked unauthorized access to Yanomami territory to cut supply to criminal groups and prevent the spread of diseases.

"[President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva] is using this situation, which is really a sensitive humanitarian issue, to restore the global image of Brazil as a country that defends measures to protect the environment," André Pereira Cesar, a political analyst at Hold Consultoria told BNamericas.

"We will take all measures to remove illegal miners and take care of the Yanomami people. We decided to end the game. The Brazilian government will remove and end mining on any indigenous land from now on," Lula said in a speech.

"I have ordered mining regulator ANM that not even the slightest activity is allowed on indigenous lands. Not even one single exploration is authorized," said Lula.

Malnutrition and high malaria rates among indigenous people are attributed to illegal mining by crime syndicates and the associated environmental destruction and exploitation of communities.

During the recent visit by Germany’s Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, the Fundo Amazônia fund, which was fed by Germany and Norway and overseen by development bank BNDES, was reactivated. Created to finance sustainable projects in the Amazon, the donor countries stopped contributing over a row with former president Jair Bolsonaro over deforestation.

Now, Germany promised 35mn euros (US$37.9mn) for the fund, part of which will be used to ease the indigenous crisis.

Overall, Germany will provide 1.1bn reais (US$216mn) for environmental projects across Brazil.


The supreme court ordered an investigation into the humanitarian crisis, which could target Bolsonaro. Authorities will investigate if wrongdoings were committed and just how weakened mechanisms against illegal mining have contributed to the crisis.

"[Supreme court] judge Luís Roberto Barroso decided that the public prosecutor, military prosecutor, the justice and public security ministry and the [federal police’s Roraima state unit] will investigate the possible participation of authorities from the Jair Bolsonaro administration, in theory, in the crimes of genocide, disobedience, breach of secrecy of justice, and environmental crimes related to the life, health and safety of various indigenous communities," according to a supreme court press release.

Bolsonaro, who has been in the US since December 31, denied any wrongdoing via social media and said his administration paid attention to indigenous populations, while illegal mining was a problem long before he assumed office in 2019.

"This decision by the supreme court is yet another point that poses a risk to Bolsonaro's political future, which could even lead to the suspension of his political rights, preventing him from being a candidate in the next presidential elections for example," added Cesar.

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