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Garimpeiros The Wildcat Gold Miners of the Amazon Rainforest


Until recently, small-scale gold mining was done by hand or with the help of small generators, but the introduction of hydraulic excavators has changed this. A single excavator, with its powerful shovel, can clear a patch of forest and dig a pit in a few days—a task that would have taken months by hand. After the excavator reaches bedrock, the garimpeiros enter the pit and use high-pressure hoses to blast away the remaining soil and any gold that may have settled there. The mix of sediment flows to the lowest point in the pit, where a man with vacuum pump sucks it up to the sluice box on ground level.