SpaceX’s Starlink devices found at illegal mining sites in the Amazon

Sao Paulo

Five Starlink internet devices were found at illegal mining sites in the Amazon during raids by Brazilian environmental police on Tuesday, the environmental agency said.

Starlink are small, easy-to-use satellite dishes made by SpaceX, Elon Musk’s private rocket company. Starlink claims its equipment can deliver “low latency, high-speed Internet access in remote and rural locations around the world.

The equipment itself is not illegal, but can be used for illegal activities, according to the environmental agency. Communications can be difficult in the Amazon, and small satellite dishes facilitate communications between illegal miners.

In this image provided by the Brazilian Environment Agency, federal agents destroy an illegal mining barge inside Yanomami Indigenous Territory, Roraima state, Brazil, Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

An illegal mining camp pictured on February 24, 2023 in the Yanomami territory of Roraima state, Brazil.

“The purpose of the raids in this indigenous territory is to disrupt illegal mining supply lines so that they can no longer be supports and force the withdrawal of intruders,” the agency said in a statement.

The Yanomami territory, which spans the Brazilian states of Roraima and Amazonas, is meant to be a protected reserve where mining is illegal. But miners have flooded the region in recent years as gold prices soared, stripping the natural environment, bringing disease and, in some cases, driving out vital health workers.

A report by Brazilian NGO Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), based on satellite imagery, found that mines on Yanomami lands had increased from four in 2015 to 1,556 by the end of 2021.

CNN has contacted SpaceX for comment.

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