A mine opens and we don’t have an island. We have a regional development that must be considered
In addition to deforestation, mining activities must be seen for their cumulative impacts on forests. Through a thesis defended at the University of São Paulo (USP), environmental engineer Juliana Siqueira-Gay defends a systemic view of the impacts of opening new protected environmental areas. She participated in this Friday’s edition of Bem Viver (23).
The study defended by Siqueira-Gay in 2021 proposes a consideration of activities such as the construction of associated infrastructure, such as transmission lines, access roads, railways, in addition to attracting labor and expanding urban centers.
“A mine opens and we don’t have an island. We have a regional development that must be considered”, contextualizes the researcher, emphasizing the threats to local biodiversity in the importance of ecosystems.
Entitled “From intensive use to fragmented landscapes: perspectives on the cumulative impacts of mining on forests in the Brazilian Amazon”, the thesis starts from a consideration of the growing demand for minerals in the world, which results in impacts on the sector’s legislation.
The regulation of mining activity within indigenous lands, for example, is part of the pretensions of “passing the cattle” supported by the federal government and the Parliamentary Agricultural Front, or the so-called ruralist caucus. One of the materializations in this sense is the bill (PL 191/2020) that came from the federal executive. As a matter of urgency since last March, the matter began to be processed in the Chamber of Deputies despite popular pressure and denunciations of the possible impacts of mining on indigenous populations.
When considering the legislative disputes and the results found in the research, Juliana defends a debate that goes beyond the installation areas of the projects.
“So we see an increase in fragmentation. The indirect deforestation caused by the roads and these infrastructures is up to 40 times greater than the deforestation of the mines themselves”, he reports when considering the regional impacts on mining development.
As a method, the research used information and mapping in the territory of the National Reserve of Cobre and Associates (RENCA), between the states of Pará and Amapá, which has 9 protected areas, two of which are indigenous. In addition, a historical series of maps was used to project future deforestation in 30 years in the region.
“In the complete development scenario of the region, in the opening of all areas, more than 7600 km² of forests would be lost between direct and indirect impacts. What we talk about is roads and mines, and all this infrastructure for the construction of 1450 km of new roads. So we are talking about a considerable densification in the region to access the 240 mineral deposits that it has there”, highlights among 32 million hectares of the territory.
“The only way to avoid this impact would be to avoid, minimize these impacts, and the role of roads and landscape protection, that is, maintaining strategically protected areas is fundamental”, he defends, while recognizing other possible impacts that are beyond the research, such as the possibility of an increase in illegal activities by loggers and prospectors, who would have more access to the region with the opening of roads.
“This recent weakening of environmental policy in Brazil is a real setback, it goes against what we show in this study. For example, when we comment on the impacts – whether direct or indirect – we are dealing precisely with the regional scope of new projects that should be considered an environmental licensing process. What we have as a proposal for a regulatory change in the new licensing law, is precisely weakening in the process of systematic assessment of the impacts of new projects”, he emphasizes.
Artistic intervention in Brumadinho (MG) brings together family members of victims of the environmental crime that occurred in 2019; work by French artist Saype’s was held on Sunday (24) / Douglas Magno / AFP
In addition to the study developed by Juliana Siqueira-Gay, this Friday’s Bem Viver addresses other possible consequences of mining, recalling the responsibilities of companies operating in the sector. The edition recalled the case that occurred in Mariana (MG), in 2015, and in Brumadinho (MG), in 2019, which resulted in loss of life and environmental impacts of great proportions.
In this way, the program highlighted a work carried out with children aged 0 to 6 years old, living in areas affected by the rupture of Vale’s dam, in Brumadinho, which identified high levels of contamination by heavy metals. The research was carried out by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation of Minas Gerais (Fiocruz Minas) and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).
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Editing: Daniel Lamir