More than a quarter of Brazil’s gold exports are illegal, the study said

Brazil, gold

Brazilian prosecutors, in collaboration with scientists at the University of Belo Horizonte, have found that less than 50 tons of gold the country has exported in the past two years come from illegal gold mines.

In 2019 and 2020, 48.9 tons of Brazilian gold exported to the world market came from illegal mines. A team of Brazilian prosecutors and scientists from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte found out. This represents about 28 percent of all gold exports from Brazil.

“Wild” gold diggers very often mine yellow metal in locations where it is strictly forbidden. These are usually protected natural areas in untouched wilderness. According to scientists, such mining contributes to the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and also often to the release of toxic substances into local rivers. Especially mercury.

According to official government statistics, around 111 tons of gold were exported from Brazil last year. Prosecutors and scientists at the university claim that illegally mined gold was very likely to have appeared in this volume. In addition, it could reach the European market, as 72 percent of Brazil’s gold exports go to Switzerland and the United Kingdom, among others.


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