Major Gold Mine Project in the Amazon Temporarily Suspended

A Brazilian judge temporarily suspended plans to open what would be the largest gold mine in the Brazilian Amazon this week, saying the Canadian company behind the project illegally obtained land and did not adequately address concerns from indigenous communities, according to news reports.

The proposed mine, owned by Toronto-based Belo Sun Mining, would stretch over 675 square miles in the northeastern Amazon rainforest, according to Mongabay. The company estimates the facility will produce 5 million ounces of gold over a 12-year period, mining nearly 35 million tons of rock in the process. Local residents worry that toxic waste — such as cyanide — from the mine could run into the nearby Xingu River, damaging the ecosystem and vital food sources for indigenous communities. There is also disagreement over who owns the rights to the land where the mine would be located, Mongabay reported. 

This is not the first time the Belo Sun Mine has been delayed. In 2014, another judge suspended its environmental license, saying the Canadian company hadn’t properly evaluated the mine’s impact on the local population.