Serra Pelada. Garimpo da Serra Pelada

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The large territorial extension of Brazil provides several advantages, among them is the possibility of having natural wealth, both on the terrestrial surface and in the subsoil. The country was marked by the large amount of gold found during the 17th and 18th centuries. After this period, it was believed that there would no longer be any large gold deposits in the country. However, in 1980 the Serra Pelada appeared.
Serra Pelada is a region located in the State of Pará. In the 1980s, this area was invaded by thousands of people in search of quick enrichment through gold. Due to the large concentration of miners, the region also attracted farmers, doctors, drivers, priests, engineers, among others. However, in order to avoid possible confusion, women and drinks were prohibited from entering the mines. The Army Major, Sebastião Curió, was responsible for organizing the garimpo.
The area quickly became the largest open pit mine in the world. Tons of gold were taken from Serra Pelada, this fact made everyone think that the gold deposits would be able to enrich the miners. However, most of the miners did not manage to get rich, and what is worse, many died during their work.

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The working conditions were very precarious, intense heat, use of damaged stairs, steep slopes. hazardous, iron monoxide dust in the air - which was inhaled by workers, even though it was harmful to lungs. But despite all these factors, the miners worked day and night in the hope of “bumping” – an expression related to the fact of getting rich.


Miners looking for gold in Serra Pelada

Gold production in Serra Pelada decreased and, in 1992, there was a halt in gold extraction in the region. The large crater opened for the removal of gold was transformed into a huge lake. Companhia Vale do Rio Doce received an indemnity of 59 million from the Federal Government, as it had rights to the gold deposits, which were invaded by thousands of miners.
In 2002, the National Congress approved a decree that allowed miners to carry out their activities in an area close to Serra Pelada. In a few months, approximately 10,000 miners were attracted to this region. Several problems occur in this new area. The dispute of political interests, union leaders, mining companies and former miners generated several conflicts. The climate in the region remains tense, with several murders taking place in search of gold.

By Wagner de Cerqueira and Francisco
Graduated in Geography

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