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Larissa Rodrigues

Instituto Escolhas

Larissa holds a PhD and a master’s degree in Energy by the University of Sao Paulo (USP) and a bachelor’s in International Relations by Faculdades Belas Artes. She acted as the coordinator of Research and Investigations at Greenpeace Brazil, as well as a Climate and Energy campaigner. She has solid experience working with climate, energy, and forests. Her background includes projects with international organizations, universities, and the private sector on energy systems and natural resources regulation and modeling.
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What is the real socioeconomic impact of gold and diamond exploration in the Amazon?

Gold and diamond mining in the Amazon has become a major debate topic in recent years, and has intensified during the term of the current federal administration, alongside the issues of increased deforestation and armed conflict over land use. The question remains: does mineral exploration actually bring about socioeconomic advances? And how long do such advances really last? These and other questions were addressed during an Instituto Escolhas Webinar on 28 January, which presented the results of the study “What is the real socioeconomic impact of gold and diamond mining in the Amazon?”. The study, undertaken by an interdisciplinary team of regional development experts led by Carlos Manso, a researcher at the Poverty Studies Laboratory of the Federal University of Ceará (LEP/CAEN), addresses how mineral extraction in the municipalities of the Legal Amazon impacts upon key issues for local populations, such as health, education, and GDP per capita. The research project aims to determine whether mining is really able to transform these municipalities’ realities, inviting debate on which activities should be encouraged in which region.

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Protected areas or threatened areas? The endless gold rush in the Indigenous Lands and Conservation Units of the Amazon

This study features updated data until 2020 on the size of the threat that gold poses to protected areas in the Legal Amazon. To accomplish this, the study analyzed all gold prospecting requests (prospecting applications and permits) registered with the National Mining Agency (Agência Nacional de Mineração – ANM) – since these requests indicate private interest in the areas – while being careful to not only check the public databases but also to ask the agency itself for truly active requests, ensuring the accuracy of the analysis of requests so as to estimate overlays with Indigenous Lands and Conservation Units. The recent increase in gold production is accompanied by widespread environmental and social destruction, and it does not bring development for the region, as confirmed in a recent study by Escolhas. Very often, newspapers run stories about gold that is tarnished by the invasion of indigenous territories, violence, drug and arms trafficking, money laundering, slave labor, prostitution, contamination of rivers and of people by mercury, and deforestation. The gold rush in the Amazon is rooted in illegal practices, which today account for about 16% of the country’s production, with extraction taking place in prohibited areas without any sort of control. But that slice of illegality may be much bigger, since there is no way to measure it with precision. Social control over this activity is scant. There is a lack of transparency and verification mechanisms for sector data, and there is no system for effective traceability that would allow the origin of gold that is produced to be monitored. This undermines the inspection and control actions and encourages illegal trade in the country, putting further pressure on the areas that should be protected for the good of the environment and society.

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