SpaceX Starlink devices found at illegal mining sites in Amazon

(CNN) — Five Starlink internet devices were found at illegal mining sites in the Amazon during a raid by Brazil’s environmental police on Tuesday, the company said.

Starlinks are small, easy-to-use satellite dishes made by SpaceX, a private rocket company owned by Elon Musk. Starlink claims its devices can deliver “high-speed, low-latency broadband internet to remote and rural locations around the world”.

According to Brazil’s environmental organization, the equipment is not illegal, but it can be used for illegal activities. Communications can be a challenge in the Amazon, and small satellite dishes have been used for communication between illegal miners.

“The purpose of the raids in this indigenous landscape is to disrupt the supply lines of illegal mining so that they are no longer supported and to force the trespassers to withdraw,” the company said in a statement.

In this photo provided by Brazil’s Environment Agency, federal officials destroy an illegal mine rock inside Yanomami indigenous territory, Roraima state, Brazil, Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

An illegal mining camp is photographed in Yanomami territory in Roraima state, Brazil on February 24, 2023.

The Yanomami territory, which stretches into the Brazilian states of Roraima and Amazonas, is supposed to be a protected reserve where mining is illegal. However, in recent years the region has been inundated with mining due to rising gold prices, stripping the natural environment, breeding disease and, in some cases, driving away key health workers.

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

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CNN has reached out to SpaceX for comment.

With earlier reporting by CNN’s Tara John and Rodrigo Pedroso.

Esmond Harmon

"Entrepreneur. Social media advocate. Amateur travel guru. Freelance introvert. Thinker."

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