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Truck being loaded with bauxite ore at Brazil's Norsk Hydro ASA Paragominas mine. Norsk Hydro ASA via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA

By Sue Branford and Maurício Torres

For many years, international and Brazilian mining companies have dreamed of getting access to the mineral wealth lying beneath indigenous lands. And finally, the government of Jair Bolsonaro seems determined to give them that opportunity. On March 4, while Brazilians were distracted by Carnival celebrations, the new Minister of Mines and Energy Admiral Bento Albuquerque announced plans to permit mining on indigenous land.

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The illegal La Pampa gold mine, seen here in 2017, has devastated the Peruvian Amazon and spread poisonous mercury. Planet Labs

A first-of-its-kind map has unveiled widespread environmental damage and contamination of the Amazon rainforest caused by the rise illegal mining.

The survey, released Monday by the Amazon Socio-Environmental Geo-Referenced Information Project (RAISG), identifies at least 2,312 sites and 245 areas of prospecting or extraction of minerals such as gold, diamonds and coltan in six Amazonian countries—Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. It also identified 30 rivers affected by mining and related activities.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Stikine River runs through Wrangell, Alaska. Mining operations nearby threaten to poison fish in the Stikine watershed and destroy the traditions and livelihoods of Southeast Alaskan Tribes. Alaska Department of Fish and Game

By Ramin Pejan

Mining operations in Canada are threatening to destroy the way of life of Southeast Alaskan Tribes who were never consulted about the mines by the governments of Canada or British Columbia.

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Jair Bolsonaro during a speech on Feb. 2, 2017. Marcelo Camargo / Agência Brasil Fotografias / CC BY 2.0

Far-right congressman Jair Bolsonaro, whose hostile campaign rhetoric has earned him comparisons to U.S. President Donald Trump, won Brazil's presidential election Sunday, a development that has raised concerns about the future of human rights and environmental action in the world's sixth-largest greenhouse gas emitter, CNN reported.

Like Trump, Bolsonaro has made homophobic, sexist and racist statements and emboldened right wing groups who share his views.

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San Juan National Forest. Scrubhiker (USCdyer) / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

The Trump administration's plan to make it easier for industry to frack and mine in national forests would endanger the climate, wildlife and watersheds, the Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups said in comments submitted Monday to the U.S. Forest Service.

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Cement Creek at Silverton, CO. The region downstream from the Gold King Mine has been an area of extensive USGS water quality research. U.S. Geological Survey

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head Scott Pruitt on Wednesday proposed another way to weaken U.S. environmental regulations protecting the nation's waterways from pollution.

In a memo dated June 26 but released June 27, Pruitt asked the EPA's Office of Water and Regional Administrators to draft a proposal that would restrict the agency's ability to revoke permits issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) allowing projects to dispose of dredged or fill material in rivers, streams and other waterways, The Hill reported.

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Aerial view of the Auyán Tepuy and the Caroni River in Venezuela. Luis Ovalles / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA

By Isaac Nahon-Serfaty

Venezuela is on a path towards environmental devastation.

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Snowshoe hares near the now closed Giant Mine outside of Yellowknife, N.W.T show signs of arsenic contamination. Denali NPS / Flickr / CC BY-SA

By Som Niyogi and Solomon Amuno

Even though it was closed decades ago, the Giant Mine on the outskirts of Yellowknife has left a long environmental legacy.

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This week, from April 30 to May 6, communities around the world are celebrating Screen-Free Week. Screen-Free Week is an annual event in which "children, families, entire schools and communities will rediscover the joys of life beyond the screen," according to the website. The week encourages participants to step away from digital sources of entertainment like video games, TVs, smartphones, tablets and computers and focus on other activities like reading, playing and enjoying meals with family and friends.

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Activists in Peru protesting the Conga mining project. Amnesty International

Authorities in Paraguay and Peru are unjustly criminalizing activists who speak out to protect their environment and land, an Amnesty International report released Thursday revealed.

The report, A Recipe for Criminalization: Defenders of the Environment, Territory and Land in Peru and Paraguay, outlined the three "ingredients" both countries use to undermine the efforts of activists. First, they delegitimize activists through smear campaigns. Second, they apply laws and regulations that allow for forced evictions. And, third, they misuse the criminal justice system to prosecute activists for unfounded reasons.

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A woman who helped expose the Flint, Michigan water crisis is one of the seven environmental activists and six women to be honored with the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize.

The prize, whose winners were announced Monday, was established by San Francisco philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman in 1989. It is the largest award in the world for environmental activism.

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