The Hellish Gold Mine that was Serra Pelada   Leave a comment


aaline

August 1985, Brazil --- Thousands of saqueiros (sack carriers) working on the Serra Pelada gold mine, which was known rather descriptively as "the Ant Hill". The mine was closed down at the end of the 1980s. Brazil. --- Image by © Stephanie Maze/CORBIS

August 1985, Brazil — Thousands of saqueiros (sack carriers) working on the Serra Pelada gold mine, which was known rather descriptively as “the Ant Hill”. The mine was closed down at the end of the 1980s. Brazil. — Image by © Stephanie Maze/CORBIS

aaline

In 1979, Genésio Ferreira da Silva, a farmer in the remote interior of Brazil, discovered a nugget of gold on his property and hired a geologist to see whether there was more to find.

Within days, word had spread and a gold rush had begun. After five weeks, 10,000 speculators were scratching through the soil and finding nuggets as large as 13 pounds.

By May 1980, 4,000 miners had laid claim to two-by-three-meter plots in the rapidly deepening and expanding hole in the ground. Workers known as garimpeiros collected the muddy soil into 40-pound sacks, which they then carried up hundreds of feet of rickety wood and rope ladders to the lip of the mine for sifting.

At its peak, an estimated 100,000 garimpeiros worked in the yawning mine. A shantytown sprung up near the chasm, where some 60 to 80 murders went unsolved every single month.

In 1986, flooding forced mining operations to end. In six years, the officially recorded yield was 44.5 tons of gold — but it was estimated that as much as 90 percent of the gold found was smuggled out and sold on the black market.

Today, the mine is a small, polluted lake, which still sits on top of tons of undiscovered precious metal.

aaline

mine1

Mine surveyors measure off a single plot 2 metres by 3metres

aaline

mine2

aaline

mine3

aaline

mine4

aaline

mine5

aaline

August 1985, Brazil --- 70,000 workers or hormigueros, "ants", carry sacks of dirt down the mountain at the Serra Pelada, or Naked Mountain, gold mine in Brazil. The dirt is sifted at the bottom of the mountain for gold nuggets. --- Image by © Stephanie Maze/CORBIS

August 1985, Brazil — 70,000 workers or hormigueros, “ants”, carry sacks of dirt down the mountain at the Serra Pelada, or Naked Mountain, gold mine in Brazil. The dirt is sifted at the bottom of the mountain for gold nuggets. — Image by © Stephanie Maze/CORBIS

aaline

August 1985, Brazil --- 70,000 workers or hormigueros, "ants", carry sacks of dirt down the mountain at the Serra Pelada, or Naked Mountain, gold mine in Brazil. The dirt is sifted at the bottom of the mountain for gold nuggets. --- Image by © Stephanie Maze/CORBIS

aaline

mine8

As Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now said: “The Horror, The Horror!”

aaline

Overview 1983

aaline

overview1

.

Posted April 28, 2016 by markosun in Money

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: