Residents of traditional communities in the Brazilian Amazon municipality of Barcarena, near the mouth of the Amazon River, say that their subsistence and commercial livelihoods, and their health, have been destroyed by an invasion of mining companies which began in the mid-1980’s.Among the gigantic companies moving into the region were Brazil’s Vale, Norwegian-Japanese Albrás, Norway’s Norsk Hydro, and France’s Imerys Rio Capim Caulim. Community complaints say that the firms allegedly stole community land and polluted land, water and air.Meanwhile, according to residents, the government rewarded the companies with subsidies, looked the other way when community lands were appropriated and pollution occurred, and paid for mining firm infrastructure, including the Tucurui mega-dam; port of Vila do Conde, and a network of new roads.Also, a string of mining disasters punctuated the years, with the worst by Norsk Hydro in 2018 at the Hydro Alunorte facility. Though local waters, blood and hair have proven to be contaminated with mining-related toxins, the companies defend themselves by saying no particular firm can be pinpointed with the harm. This story is the fifth 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 to open the Amazon’s Indigenous reserves and other protected areas to large-scale industrial mining. BARCARENA, Pará state, Brazil — Maria Socorro da Silva lives in the Amazon, but hasn’t heard birdsong in her backyard for many months. “Do you see those guavas?” she asks, pointing to a tree covered in ripe fruit. “Birds won’t eat them.” Then she points to the fruit on the ground. “Chickens don’t go near them. They can sense that they’re polluted, but I can’t,” says Socorro, as she bites into a luscious guava. Socorro lives in Barcarena, 50 kilometers (31 miles) from Belém, the capital of Brazil’s Pará state, near the mouth of the Amazon River. She is also president of the Association of Caboclos, Indigenous and Quilombolas da Amazônia (Cainquiama), which represents thousands of the region’s forest dwellers. Forty years ago, Barcarena was a peaceful fishing community, inhabited by traditional ribeirinho (riverine) families. But in the mid-1980s the international mining industry arrived and transformed the community into one of the Amazon’s main industrial and shipping hubs, while failing to consult inhabitants about the takeover, say residents. Today, three immense mining processing plants crowd closely together in Barcarena: Hydro Alunorte, the largest alumina refinery in the world, controlled by the Norwegian company, Norsk Hydro; the Norwegian-Japanese Albrás company, Brazil’s largest manufacturer of primary aluminum; and the French Imerys Rio Capim Caulim, the world’s largest processor of kaolin, a mineral used mostly in the making of paper and pottery. So much heavy industry, concentrated in one place, in a country whose government habitually favors industry over the rights of the people, with poorly upheld environmental regulation and enforcement, was a recipe for socio-environmental catastrophe, and so it has proved, say analysts.