December 19, 2012

Alert: Brazilian mining project to destroy dozens of archaeological sites in the Amazon

At least 24 caves, which hold major archaeological relevance for the understanding of the early inhabitation of the Amazon basin, will be destroyed by a gigantic iron mine project in the region of Carajás (Pará, Brazil). 

While the area is a national forest and the Brazilian law demands in principle that archaeological sites be preserved, the government has given Vale, the Brazilian mining giant, what amounts to a blank license for the destruction of whatever stands in their way.

Not just that, but Vale holds control over what ongoing research can disclose of the importance of the caves:

Renato Kipnis, a respected archaeologist in São Paulo whom Vale hired to survey the caves of Carajás, said that Vale had prohibited him from discussing their archaeological significance, because of a confidentiality agreement Vale had required him to sign. Later, a Vale spokeswoman allowed Mr. Kipnis to be interviewed by e-mail, but only if the company was allowed to vet his replies. 

In written replies screened by Vale, he marveled at the importance of the caves. 

Source: New York Times

NASA image of the already existing Carajás mine

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