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Project June 16, 2021

The Illegal Manganese Route in the Amazon: A Snapshot During Pandemic Times

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Manganese is the fourth most used metal in the world. Industrialized countries in Western Europe, as well as the United States and Japan, are extremely dependent on manganese reserves in countries like Brazil. In Brazil, one of the Amazonian states, Pará, concentrates one of the largest reserves of this ore, and is responsible for 57.86% of all manganese extracted in the national territory. The problem is that much of this ore is extracted and transported out of the country illegally. In 2020 the Federal Police in Pará, seized 90,000 tons of manganese from illegal sources, valued at 90 million Brazilian Reais. Investigations by the Federal Police indicate that the volume of manganese transported through the port of the city of Barcarena is 30% greater than the volume exported within the state.

This illegal exploitation leaves a trail of environmental destruction, since the rules for the recovery of areas after mining are not respected. Not to mention the land conflicts, since many traditional populations are forcibly removed from areas considered suitable for mineral exploration by the gangs involved in this illegal scheme. This situation has worsened during the pandemic with the reduction of inspections, disarticulation of social movements, and on the other hand, reinforced by the search for safe investments, such as the mineral trade, which has grown around the world in this context of uncertainty generated by the pandemic.

This project is to produce a series of reports, in the radio journalism format, in three episodes, with the following approaches:

First Episode: The illegal route of Manganese: The illegal extraction of Manganese from the municipalities of Marabá, Parauapebas, Curionopolis and Eldorado dos Carajás until its arrival at Barcarena. In this episode we detail how the extraction happens, the illegal transportation done by specialized gangs with high financial and military power, and the whole network of corruption of public agents so that the ore leaves the region to the international market, especially to Japan.

Second Episode: Social, environmental and economic impacts on the region: This installment will chronicle the trail of environmental destruction, as well as the social and financial impacts (lack of revenue) left by the illegal manganese route in the municipality of Marabá and the region.

Third Episode: The impact of the pandemic on the illegal manganese route: Addressing how some of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as the decrease in inspections, operations and disarticulation of social movements, and on the other hand the increase in demand, with the heating of the international mineral market, has contributed to the intensification of this illegal action in the Amazon.

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