Mining in Brazil

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Mining in Brazil is centered on the extraction of gold, copper, tin, iron and bauxite.


  • Discovery of first gold rush in 1690s, gold discoveries made in streams not far from present day city of Belo Horizonte.
  • In 1729 diamonds were discovered in the same area. This started a diamond rush.
  • By 1760 nearly half of the world's gold was from Brazil.
  • In the early 18th century nearly 400,000 Portuguese immigrants came to mine in southern Brazil.
  • Over half a million African slaves were shipped to work in the gold mines.

Mining today[edit]

In 1988 Brazil was the 5th largest gold producer in the world. Brazil mined iron, gold, tin, copper and Bauxite (contains aluminium).

Environmental Impact[edit]

Satellite picture of Carajás mine showing soil degradation.

The mining activity has caused severe environmental impact in Brazil area. Among the different types of environmental degradation, mining activities has caused landscape degradation, erosion, soil contamination, groundwater and surface water pollution.

Further information: Bento Rodrigues dam disaster

The Bento Rodrigues dam disaster is considered to be worse environmental incident in the history of mining in Brazil.[1] On November 5, 2015, two iron ore tailings dams of Samarco ( a joint-venture between Vale S.A. and BHP Billiton) collapsed. [2] The mud containing by-products of mining flowed down, destroying completely Bento Rodrigues, a sub-district of Mariana, and invaded other neighbouring cities, such as Barra Longa, causing at least six casualties, and destroying at least 200 homes. The mud reached the Rio Doce, contaminated the water, and compromised the water supply of cities in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo that lay by the river. Several species of fish died to the low oxygen levels in the water, and up till today scientists could not estimate the total environmental impact.

See also[edit]