Huge mining companies are bulldozing into the rain forests of Brazil, one of the world's most environmentally sensitive regions.
They expect to spend $24 billion in the next 4 years to dig up iron ore, bauxite (used to make aluminum) and other metals found there. The Brazilian Amazon is where one-fifth of the world's mining in going on.
Scientists are worried--they say that preserving the world's largest remaining rain forest--an area the size of Western Europe--is critical to stave off climate change. They predict that cutting this forest down in order to build roads that lead to the mines could change the weather in a way that would kill off one-tenth of the world's animal species.
In the December 24th edition of the Wall Street Journal, John Lyons and Paul Kierman quote mining consultant Jared Hardner as saying, "Roads are the enemies of trees, and mines need roads."
This boost in mining activity may even be unnecessary, since growth has slowed in China, also slowing down the need for these materials, and prices for these ores have plunged.
But mine operators are optimistic, despite the fact that it can take a decade to bring a mine into operation. The authors quote Fernando Coura, CEO of a Brazilian mining company, as saying, "The Amazon will be our California."
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