Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN) arrived in the Trombetas River basin in the 1970s with plans to mine bauxite on a gigantic scale. Today, MRN is the fourth largest producer of bauxite in the world, providing the valuable aluminum ore to nations and manufacturers around the planet.On arriving in the Amazon, MRN immediately annexed lands from the traditional riverine community of Boa Vista, reportedly displacing 90 families to build its port company town. Boa Vista is a quilombo, a community of Afro-Brazilians (known as quilombolas), the descendants of runaway slaves.While MRN says it provided jobs, education and health services, quilombo residents report a decade of horrendous water pollution from mine waste — never cleaned up — the loss of fisheries and hunting grounds, rampant poverty, a lack of electricity, health services, and proper sanitation.The harm done by industrial mining to Boa Vista, and lessons learned, and not learned, over the last 40+ years, are especially relevant today, as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro aggressively pushes forward his agenda to open indigenous reserves and other Amazon conserved lands to industrial mining. This story is the first in a series reporting on the legacy, current status and likely future of bauxite mining in the Trombetas river basin and Amazon delta. Journalist Sue Branford and filmmaker Thaís Borges journeyed there in February, 2020. Their investigation of aluminum production is especially relevant now, as Brazil’s Bolsonaro administration pushes hard to open the Amazon’s indigenous reserves and other protected areas to large-scale industrial mining. ORIXIMINÁ MUNICIPALITY, Pará state, Brazil — Well before dawn, a loud jarring industrial bang shatters the silence of the Amazon rainforest. Awakened, three-year-old Amanda, heart pounding, races to her grandfather’s hammock. “She’s always frightened when she hears that racket. After that, no one in the community can get back to sleep,” explains Amarildo de Jesus, coordinator for Boa Vista, a hamlet of just 800 people, mostly Afro-Brazilian, and one of dozens of quilombola communities established in Pará more than 140 years ago by runaway slaves. The “racket” that so startles Amanda can erupt at any moment, day or night; it happens every time a gigantic transatlantic ore carrier drops anchor in the busy Trombetas River port just half a mile away. The explosive sound is a recurring reminder that the little community’s forest setting is a rural relic of the past, now surrounded on nearly all sides by a highly disruptive and dirty industry. The oceangoing ships are coming up the Amazon and Trombetas rivers to collect ore from Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN), the world’s fourth largest producer of bauxite. That ore is then shipped downriver to processing mills in Barcarena in Pará, or on the Atlantic coast in São Luís in Maranhão state. Some ore is also sent, unprocessed, abroad, The finished aluminium is then destined for Brazilian manufacturing plants, or factories in the U.S., Canada, China, the EU or elsewhere, where the ubiquitous metal — absolutely vital to the modern world — is shaped into beer and soda cans, or used in computers, mobile phones, planes, cars and other end products. While MRN officials argue that Boa Vista today is a beneficiary of bauxite mining — the industry does provide jobs — most residents say the social and environmental harms experienced over decades far outweigh the good.