Amazon AWS: Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft embroiled in gold mine controversy

Aug 11, 2022 | Posted by MadalineDunn

Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, have all made big claims regarding sustainability and social responsibility, however, recently, the three giants have been embroiled in a c ontroversy relating to buying so-called "blood gold." According to reports, the three, alongside Apple, bought gold from an Italian refiner that is now accused of sourcing it from mines located in indigenous lands in the Amazon rainforest. For Apple and Microsoft, it is believed that the gold was used for smartphones and computers, while for Google and Amazon, it was used for servers. 

Chimet and Marsam are two of the mining companies that the giants sourced the gold from between 2020 and 2021. The two are both being investigated by the Brazilian Federal Police for crimes and irregularities, which include environmental damage and illegal extraction of natural resources.

According to Reuters, this kind of illegal mining has increased significantly under President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been pushing for more mining on indigenous lands, even sponsoring a bill to permit further work in these areas, which many warned would give "free rein" to wildcat mining. This type of mining is not only an environmental hazard, contributing to further destruction of the rainforests and the pollution of rivers, but has also seen the intimidation and deaths of those from indigenous tribes.

Under the leadership of Bolsonaro, Brazilian sustainability think tank Instituto Escolhas estimates Brazil produced 84 tonnes of illegal gold, up 23% from the two years before and "equivalent to nearly half of Brazil's total gold output."