BRAZIL: The Treasure of Serra Pelada

An uncontrolled gold rush turns into a government project

Deep in Brazil's Amazon jungle, thousands of dust-covered laborers swarm over a mountain of red earth, using their pickaxes and shovels to carve its surface into a bizarre landscape. It is a scene that could belong to an outlandish biblical epic movie or a sinister labor camp. It is neither. Serra Pelada (Bald Mountain), 270 miles south of the mouth of the Amazon River, is the site of one of the biggest gold rushes in modern Brazilian history. It is also an experiment by Brazil's...

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