Seoul – Heavy machinery produced by HD Hyundai Construction Equipment (HD HCE), a Korean company, is used for illegal gold mining on Indigenous Territories in the Amazon, a new report by Greenpeace East Asia reveals. The Kayapó, Munduruku, and Yanomami Lands represent over 90% of the Indigenous Territories degraded by illegal mining in the Brazilian Amazon. A total of 75 Hyundai excavators were identified on their Territories. The scale of this destructive activity has exploded in the Amazon forest in recent years. Between 2019 and 2021, the average area destroyed by mining within Indigenous Lands was 202% larger than the average of the previous ten years, and the introduction of the excavators played a key role in this expansion.
Danicley de Aguiar, senior Amazon forest campaigner for Greenpeace Brazil, said: “The use of heavy machinery has been fundamental in the explosive expansion of illegal mining on Indigenous Lands. The excavators have multiplied the exploration capacity and can do, in a matter of hours, a job that would take weeks to be done manually. Hyundai machines are being used to destroy, at an alarming rate, a vital ecosystem not just for the Indigenous Peoples who live on these Lands, but for the entire planet. Hyundai must put the planet above its profits and prevent its excavators from being used on Indigenous Territories and protected areas.”
Daul Jang, Advocacy Specialist for Greenpeace East Asia Seoul office, said: “HD Hyundai group including HD HCE has committed to combating climate change, environmental protection and ethical management. Its CEO and President, Ki-sun Chung, needs to show his new leadership to cooperate with the Brazilian government and society to eradicate illegal mining in the Amazon rainforest as soon as possible. Hyundai’s cooperation will set the first good example for other companies selling their heavy machinery for illegal mining.”
Doto Takak Ire, Indigenous leader of the Kayapó People, said: “I traveled all the way from Brazil to South Korea to address the issue of mining directly to Hyundai: The excavators that they produce are being used by illegal miners to destroy the Amazon rainforest. The excavators destroy the rivers, the sources of the rivers, to change the course of the rivers. The impact it has on the forest and on the lives of Indigenous People is unbelievable. The explosion of mining in our Indigenous Territories is poisoning and killing us.
During flyovers, Greenpeace Brazil identified that Hyundai’s excavators were by far the most popular brand amongst illegal miners. 43% (75) of the 176 machines registered were from the Korean company. The investigation also identified Hyundai’s authorized dealers have recently established facilities in the vicinity of the Indigenous Lands most impacted by illegal mining. In a local TV interview a representative from an HD HCE authorized dealership said that he “had convinced ‘the Koreans’ to invest” in a region renowned for its informal or illicit mining.
Greenpeace Brazil and Greenpeace East Asia demand HD HCE to commit to a transparency plan to monitor, verify and report the use of their excavators in order to stop the destruction of Indigenous Lands and protected areas in the Amazon. HD HCE already has a remote management system that uses GPS to collect data about its machines and can delimit virtual borders for the equipment’s work area. The company must use its existing technology to keep their machines out of Indigenous Lands.
Diego Gonzaga, Communications Specialist for Greenpeace International, [email protected], +1 415 527 9440
Greenpeace International Press Desk, [email protected], +31 20 718 2470 (24 hours)