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SpaceX Starlink Hardware Found in Amazon Illegal Mining Sites

SpaceX Starlink Hardware Found in Amazon Illegal Mining Sites

(CNN) – The agency reported that five Starlink internet devices were found at illegal mining sites in the Amazon region during raids by Brazil’s environmental police on Tuesday.

Starlinks are small, handy satellite dishes made by the private rocket company SpaceX, which is owned by Elon Musk. Starlink says its devices can provide “high-speed, low-latency broadband Internet to remote and rural locations around the world.”

According to the Brazilian Environment Agency, the equipment itself 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 communications between illegal miners.

“The aim of the raids on this pristine area is to disrupt supply lines to illegal mining so that they cannot be supported and to force the trespassers to withdraw,” the agency said in a statement.

In this photo provided by Brazil’s Environment Agency, federal officials destroy an illegal mining barge within the Yanomami indigenous territory, Roraima State, Brazil, on Tuesday, March 14, 2023.

An illegal mining camp filmed on February 24, 2023 in Yanomami District, Roraima State, Brazil.

The Yanomami region, which straddles the Brazilian states of Roraima and Amazonas, is supposed to be a protected reserve where mining is illegal. However, the area has been flooded by mining in recent years as gold prices soared, stripping the natural environment, breeding disease and, in some cases, alienating essential health workers.

And a report by the non-governmental Brazilian Social Institute (ISA), based on satellite imagery, found that mines on Yanomami territory had increased from four in 2015 to 1,556 by the end of 2021.

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CNN has reached out to SpaceX for comment.

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