SpaceX’s Starlink Devices Found at Illegal Mining Sites in the Amazon

Sao Paulo

Five Starlink Internet devices were found on Tuesday at illegal mining sites in the Amazon region during raids by Brazil’s environmental police, the environmental agency said.

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

The equipment itself is not illegal, but it can be used for illegal activities, according to the environmental service. Communication can be challenging in the Amazon, and the small satellite dishes helped communicate between illegal miners.

In this image from Brazil's Environment Agency, federal agents destroy an illegal mining vessel in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory, Roraima State, Brazil, Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

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

“The purpose of incursions into this indigenous area is to disrupt the supply lines of illegal mining so that it can no longer be supported and the invaders can retreat,” the agency said in a statement.

Yanomami’s territory, which spans the Brazilian states of Roraima and Amazonas, is said to be a protected reserve where mining is illegal. But miners have flooded the area in recent years as gold prices exploded, draining the natural environment, causing disease and in some cases displacing vital health workers.

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

CNN has contacted SpaceX for comment.

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