The mining corporation paid 40 millions dollars for the right to indefinitely exploit a 100 hectares area corresponding to the mine.
Serra Pelada’s gold was discovered in the ‘70, generating a sort of“gold fever”, which attracted over 100.000 miners to that Amazonian region.
In 1980 there were 1000 people working in Serra Pelada. Three years after that, there were 100.000.
The higher point of gold production and extraction was in 1983, when over 13 tons of gold were produced at the mine.
In 1984 the government gave “garimpeiros”the exploitation rights over 100 out of the 10.000 hectares belonging to the company. The area was controlled by the company Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), which was a state company at that moment.
The production started falling, until the mine was finally closed in the ‘90. After all the extractions, the mine looks like a huge 100 meters depth crater.
During the process of higher extraction, the mining exploitation caused serious effects on the environment, including forest destruction and water pollution with mercury and other metals used in the search for gold.
According to estimations, to the production of a ton of gold, a ton of mercury is needed, going directly to the environment.
The mine is also rich in iron. The specialists consider that there are reserves of 27 tons of gold that can’t be extracted manually, but by mechanic mechanisms.
The cooperative signed the contract with the US Company, which committed to give each one of the 10.000 affiliated to the cooperative, an amount near to 15.000 dollars as well as a house in a village that would be built in the zone.
The contract was rejected by other three cooperatives of gold searchers, who assure having rights on the sold area.
People are afraid of the violence, because one the three claiming cooperatives have already threatened to occupy the mine with 30.000 men.
In 1987, there were incidents with the police, having as a result the death and disappearance of 70 “garimpeiros”, during a demonstration that claimed for safety at work.
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