A Brazilian court deals a blow to a huge gold mine project in the Amazon

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A Brazilian federal court on Monday upheld the suspension of an environmental license for what would be the country’s largest open-pit gold mine in the Amazon rainforest, dealing a blow to the company based in Canada behind the project.

Belo Sun Mining Corp. was appealing the same court’s 2017 decision, which found that the company’s consultation with local indigenous peoples and study of the project’s socio-environmental impacts did not meet the criteria required by the National Indian Foundation.

In a 3-0 vote, the court upheld its previous decision. Belo Sun may appeal the decision to a higher court.

The Company’s Volta Grande Project is located on the banks of the Xingu River in Para State. It is located about 20 kilometers (12.4 miles) from Belo Monte, the third largest hydroelectric dam in the world. The Belo Monte Dam has reduced flow in the Volta Grande (Big Bend) section of the Xingu River, where the Belo Sun project is located. Among other impacts, the population of fish, a staple food for the local population, is decreasing.

“My community was not consulted on the Belo Sun project,” Lorena Curuaia, an Iawa village leader, told The Associated Press by phone. “Belo Monte has already had a major impact on the Xingu. A second project could mean the death of local people.”

Belo Sun argued that he had already consulted with indigenous peoples and that their nearest community was more than 10 km (6 miles) away. The federal prosecutor’s office says the company only took into account officially demarcated areas and that indigenous communities outside those places must also be taken into account.

Contacted by phone and email on Monday, the Belo Sun office in Brazil did not respond to requests from the AP for comment on the court’s decision or whether it would appeal.

According to the company, the project covers 2,400 hectares (5,930 acres).

“This is another victory for the indigenous and riverine peoples of the Volta Grande do Xingu,” Federal Prosecutor Felício de Araújo Pontes Jr. said in a text message. “They know that a mining project can have devastating effects on the region. The judgment shows the resilience of this population.


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The Associated Press’s climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. Learn more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.


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