In the eighties there was a gold rush that produced in Brazil the greatest open skies prospect - Serra Pelada, a Brazilian city located at Pará State (from the north region of Brazil), current municipality of Curinópolis.
The population of prospectors reached over 30,000 people. In 1981 about 10 gold tons were extracted. The lame work conditions in the prospects left a legacy of loss in the quality of life of the workers and their families.
Several prospectors died with frequent landslides in front of mining.
After for years of extraction, where there was a hill a 200-meter deep crater aroused.
Nowadays, the HDI of the region is low: 0.682. Serra Pelada became a favela (equivalent to a shanty town) with about one thousand inhabitants.
The prospectors’ activity performed without a studying of the environmental impact causes erosion, river pollution, destroys the domestic forest and generates complex socio-economic implications in the public health.
The owners of Brazilian prospects invest their profit especially in herds of cattle.
The money left to the prospectors is spent on drugs, gambling, prostitution and in buying useless things.
The dream of getting rich fast became a nightmare for the migrants who settled in Curinópolis.
It is possible to perform the extraction of ore with social responsibility, controlled environmental impact and promoting self-sustainability, which gives the best life conditions for the local population, when the financial resources coming from commercialization of ore extracted are invested in its own community, in the environmental and finance education and in the formation of cooperatives.
Serra Pelada''s history is both an environmental and socio-economic lesson that should always be remembered. We can find in it all that should not be done to the environment and to the worker.
Will the new Amazonia''s El Dorado, Gruta do Juma, be another Serra Pelada?
Translation: Renata da Silva