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Balancing economic development and environmental responsibility: Perceptions from communities of garimpeiros in the Brazilian Amazon

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Massaro, L. ; Calvimontes, J. ; Ferreira, L. C. ; de Theije, M.
Número total de Autores: 4
Tipo de documento: Artigo Científico
Fonte: RESOURCES POLICY; v. 79, p. 11-pg., 2022-10-17.

Addressing sustainability in small-scale gold mining (SSGM) can be controversial. In Brazil there is a heated debate over the sustainable approach in SSGM operations, especially in the Amazon biome where biodiversity conservation and indigenous peoples' rights raise global concern. Opposing opinions about what should be "sustained" emerge from two extreme perspectives: ensuring the perpetuation of small-scale gold mining to guarantee incomes and productivity, and considering this activity as one of the major threats to Amazonian ecosystems. It is important to understand if, in the Brazilian Amazon, this debate is condemned to remain as "SSGM versus sustainability" or if it could be transformed into "SSGM and sustainability", meaning that SSGM might embrace an understanding of sustainability that is more balanced between economic and environmental component. Therefore, this study aims at addressing the perceptions of small-scale miners (garimpeiros) themselves regarding sustainability. The research unfolds the dynamic between state impositions of environmental regulations and garimpeiros' response by showing: i) the problematics over environmental licensing and the role of cooperatives in helping with its legal aspects, and generally promoting environmental sustainability; ii) the controversial relationship between garimpeiros and environmental law enforcement agencies; iii) how miners understand the impact of deforestation; and finally, iv) how they explore sustainability pathways with landscape impact-mitigation practices. The results show that garimpeiros' actions point to the prolongation of their SSGM activity. Nevertheless, it is possible to see seeds of transformation towards more sustainable practices reinforced by associations, the adoption of cleaner technology and initiatives of rehabilitation of mined-out landscapes. Still, SSGM associations mostly employ the notion of sustainability as a palliative to allow their economic growth at the expense of the natural environment. This practice fuels the polarized debate over sustainability in the Amazon and exposes the extreme divergence of positions among all the actors in the arena. Moreover, the notion of sustainability is so malleable that there is a risk that scholars, institutions, and miners might interpret it in different, idiosyncratic ways to serve their particular political values, interests, desires, and visions of the future. (AU)

Processo FAPESP: 18/50033-6 - Transformações para a sustentabilidade na mineração de ouro artesanal e em pequena escala: uma perspectiva multi-ator e trans-regional
Beneficiário:Lúcia da Costa Ferreira
Modalidade de apoio: Auxílio à Pesquisa - Regular
Processo FAPESP: 19/09709-9 - Trajetórias e transformações: os Futuros Possíveis da mineração artesanal de ouro na Amazônia Brasileira
Beneficiário:Jorge Calvimontes Ugarte
Modalidade de apoio: Bolsas no Brasil - Pós-Doutorado
Processo FAPESP: 20/07985-6 - Dinâmicas de mudança no uso da terra em áreas de mineração de ouro artesanal e de pequena escala na Amazônia Brasileira
Beneficiário:Luciana Massaro
Modalidade de apoio: Bolsas no Brasil - Pós-Doutorado