Residents in Pará, Brazil Are Calling for the Government to Suspend the Mining License of the Belo Sun Gold Mine

gold mine
Image Source: Vašek Vinklát, CC BY 2.0

Residents in Pará, Brazil are asking the government to suspend a recently issued mining license for Belo Sun Mining. Specifically, the license was issued for the Volta Grande project, which is believed to be the largest gold mine in the country to date.

According to those who oppose the project, Belo Sun plans to use cyanide to extract gold. They believe that this method will deposit the toxic substance in the dam located just 1.5 kilometers from the Xingu River, which is a tributary of the Amazon.

The mining company has already faced similar issues since it took control of the site in 2003. In fact, its mining license was suspended in 2014 by a Brazilian court on similar reasons. But recently, the company was finally granted approval by Pará’s environmental authority to move forward with the project.

According to the vice-president of exploration for Belo Sun Stéphane Amireault, his company is planning to spend $5 million in an initial investment for exploration this year. Basically, it aims to demonstrate the possibility of new and expanded gold mineralization on a 120-kilometer property that already has active small-scale miners since the 1960s. In a statement, Amireault said:

“We are very excited to re-initiate exploration on our large property, which covers most of the 120-kilometer-strike Três Palmeiras greenstone belt. Currently, drilling has been focused in the North Block and South Block, on which we have drilled approximately 215,000 meters and 25,000 meters, respectively. With the 2017 program, we look forward to demonstrating the possibility of new and expanded gold mineralization on our property.”

The Volta Grande, which includes a gold recovery process facility, an open pit, and an infrastructure for water and tailings management, is expected to produce over 300,000 ounces of gold per year over a life span of 10 years.