Rumors of a gold discovery recently spread through parts of Brazil, attracting hundreds of wildcat gold miners to the Madeira River in the Brazilian Amazon. Lashing their floating dredges together in broad rafts, the illegal mining operations have been active for weeks, sucking silt and mud from the river bottom to be processed, while environmentalists and officials sound alarms. On November 28, officers with the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) seized and set fire to more than 60 of the dredges in an effort to stop the mining, and most of the remaining vessels have reportedly dispersed.
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