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Mining drives extensive deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon

18 Oct 2017

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Mining poses significant and potentially underestimated risks to tropical forests worldwide. In Brazil’s Amazon, mining drives deforestation far beyond operational lease boundaries, yet the full extent of these impacts is unknown and thus neglected in environmental licensing. In this study, published in Nature, the authors quantify mining-induced deforestation and investigate the aspects of mining operations, which most likely contribute.

They find mining significantly increased Amazon forest loss up to 70 km beyond mining lease boundaries, causing 11,670 km2 of deforestation between 2005 and 2015. This extent represents 9% of all Amazon forest loss during this time and 12 times more deforestation than occurred within mining leases alone. Pathways leading to such impacts include mining infrastructure establishment, urban expansion to support a growing workforce, and development of mineral commodity supply chains.

Mining-induced deforestation is not unique to Brazil; to mitigate adverse impacts of mining and conserve tropical forests globally, environmental assessments and licensing must considered both on- and off-lease sources of deforestation.