Gold mining dam breaks in Godofredo Viana, Maranhão

The Dam is comparable to the Mariana´s Dam in proportion to the amount of mineral exploration; the population reports pollution of the Tromaí River in the west of the state

On Thursday (25), several reports from videos and articles in local vehicles appeared about the collapse of the main tailings dam of Maranhão, in the city of Godofredo Viana, in the extreme west of the state, near the border with the state of Pará.

Residents recorded the moment when one of the dams belonging to the Aurizona mining company broke, overflowed and invaded the water reservoir from which the city’s water supply system was being draw.

The operation under the responsibility of the mining company Aurizona belongs to the private Canadian group Equinox Gold, this is the largest gold mineral reserve in Brazil and one of the main in the world. Data from 2019 reveal that this region has more than 750,000 tons of gold stockpiled in mines. The mining company issued a statement minimizing the problem and stating that there was no dam failure, but rather the compromising of drainage in operation of MASA S/A (Mineração Aurizona).

So far there’s no information about victims. The first reports indicate that there may be contamination of the river and that the rupture blocked the access to the only road in the region. The closest river to the mining company is the Tromaí River, next to the dam and to the sea in a mangrove area.  

The families say that, because of the contamination of the river, they are already without access to drinking water.

The contamination of this type of ore in water bodies can lead to a series of social and environmental impacts on the lives of the affected population, such as the occurrence of various diseases, in addition to increased poverty and social inequality, as occurred in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais.

We point out that in 2018 there was a displacement of waste rock piles, caused by the explosion of dynamites and about 4,000 people were affected, being isolated.

Last Tuesday (23) at the request of the MAB, the parliamentarian Adelmo Soares (PCdoB), approved in the CCJ of the Legislative Assembly of Maranhão the processing of PL 66/2021 that creates a state law of rights of populations affected by dams in Maranhão.

We affirm that this Thursday’s event is yet another socio-environmental crime by the mining companies, which are the most benefited by the current energy model in the country, and which are set against the Brazilian population.

Mining, hydroelectric and water dams in Brazil cannot continue representing insecurity, fear and violence for the population living near these enterprises.

The companies that own the dams, many from outside the country and large transnational corporations, are the ones benefiting from profits at the expense of our resources and our people, with high tariffs, and need to be held accountable urgently.

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