Illegal mining grew 54% in 2022 and devastated a new 1.782 hectares of the Yanomami Indigenous Land (TIY), according to a survey carried out using satellite images. Monitoring by the Hutukara Associação Yanomami (HAY) points to an accumulated growth of 309% in deforestation associated with mining between October 2018 and December 2022.
During this period, another 3.817 hectares were destroyed in the largest indigenous land in the country, reaching a total of 5.053 hectares. When the indigenous people began to monitor the effects of mining, in October 2018, there were 1.236 hectares devastated. In 2021, deforestation reached 3.272 hectares, as pointed out by the report Yanomami Under Attack: mining in the Yanomami Indigenous Land and proposals to combat it.
The Illegal Mining Monitoring System at TIY is made with images from Constellation Planet, satellites with high spatial resolution capable of accurately detecting and more frequently surveillance areas often not captured by other satellites. With manual monitoring, updates are logged twice a month.
The greatest concentrations of destruction are on the Uraricoera rivers, north of the Yanomami Indigenous Land, and Mucajaí, in the central region. The Waikás region, in Uraricoera, concentrates 40% of the impact, with around 2 hectares devastated. Meanwhile, the Couto Magalhães River, a tributary of the Mucajaí, has 20% of the impact, with about a thousand hectares.
The third most affected region is Homoxi, at the head of the Mucajaí, with 15% of the devastation, which corresponds to around 760 hectares.
“The impacts of mining go beyond those observed on the satellite, which is focused on deforestation. They also affect the spread of diseases, deterioration in the health status of communities, the production of intercommunity conflicts, an increase in cases of violence and a decrease in the quality of the population's water with the destruction of water bodies. All this together compromises the ability to live in communities”, explained geographer Estêvão Benfica, advisor to the Socio-environmental Institute (ISA).
Still according to Benfica, the mobility of prospectors from one area to another is a factor that results in the proliferation of diseases. The invaders even carry new strains of malaria from one region to another, for example.
According to Sivep Malaria, the Ministry of Health's monitoring system, between 2020 and 2021, more than 40 cases of malaria were recorded in the Yanomami Indigenous Land. In 2021, there were 21.883, the highest number since 2003. The explosion in cases of the disease in indigenous territory coincides with the increase in the area devastated by mining. Monitoring by Mapbiomas, which uses the Landsat satellite, shows successive jumps in deforestation by mining since 2016.
Malaria in the Yanomami Indigenous Land
In 2020, there were 19.828 registrations and in 2019, 18.187. In these years there were also record records of the disease. The years 2003 and 2004 had the lowest records, with 246 and 783 cases, respectively.
Still according to monitoring, in 2007 there were 5.460 records of the disease. In the following years, 2008 and 2009, there was a drop in new cases: 4.966 and 4.188. In 2010, 6.745 were registered and in the following years, cases dropped again until reaching a new record in 2017 with 7.891. In the following years, the disease continued to reach new peaks.