More than 300 people have been rescued from slave-labor conditions at illegal mines across Brazil since 2008, an exclusive report by the Mining Observatory shows, with most of these outfits operating in the Amazon and mining for gold. The 333 workers were rescued in a series of 31 law-enforcement raids over the past 13 years. The extent of these rescues has never been revealed before. The Amazonian state of Pará accounted for the most raids, at 12. The other raids also took place mainly in the Amazon and in northeastern Brazil, in the states of Amazonas, Amapá, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Bahia, Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte. In all the raids, workers are found in precarious conditions, without adequate accommodation facilities or bathrooms; consuming contaminated water and improvised food; working without protective equipment, on exhausting journeys, and without formal employment; and, often, subjected to accumulated debts with the owners of the mines, or garimpos, most of them illegal. Under Brazilian law, such conditions constitute slave labor. Gold was the ore of target in most of the raided garimpos, followed by precious stones such as amethyst, kaolin, limestone and tin. Lack of structure for enforcement Previously almost off the radar, it was from 2017 onward that garimpos became a focus of law enforcement, and raids increased significantly. In 2020, twice as many raids were carried out (10) than in 2017 (five), for example. Three have been held so far in 2021. The decision to crack down on these mines came from…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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