HD Hyundai Stops Sales of Diggers Used for Gold Mining in the Amazon

📸 © Tuane Fernandes / Greenpeace

📸 © Tuane Fernandes / Greenpeace

Investigations by Greenpeace and Repórter Brasil found that close to half of mechanized diggers used for illegal gold mining in the Amazon are manufactured by HD Hyundai Construction Equipment. After extensive pressure from Indigenous and environmental activists, the company agreed to stop selling excavators used for illegal gold mining in Amazonas, Pará and Roraima states in Brazil.

“The fight against mining is long and this is a first step. Now, other companies also need to act, until there are no more excavators inside our territories. I hope that they work together with the Brazilian government to define a long term solution to prevent gold mining from expanding in our lands.” – Doto Takak Ire, Leader of the Indigenous Kayapó People

Yanomami Crisis

Illegal gold mining has been rampant across the Amazon rainforest for decades on the land of Indigenous peoples like the Kayapó, Munduruku and Yanomami. Thousands of miners have flooded the region bringing toxic chemicals like mercury that poisoned key sources of food for riverine communities, as well as deadly new diseases. This increased exponentially in recent years under the administration of Jair Bolsonaro. 

Mechanized Diggers

Mechanized diggers, which sell for up to US$200,000, can remove earth over 100 times faster than manual laborers. This has made them extremely popular among small-scale miners in the Amazon. Indeed, deforestation in Yanomami territories increased by 309% between October 2018 and December 2022 primarily due to illegal mining, according to the Hutukara Yanomami Association.

“The Yanomami never died of hunger. I’m here, I’m 66 years old, and when I was little, no one died of hunger. Now mining is killing my people and also my Munduruku and Caiapó relatives. When Indigenous People get sick, they can’t work [in the fields] or hunting.” - Davi Kopenawa, president of the Hutukara Yanomami Association.


Investigations by Repórter Brasil in 2021 and 2022 found that illegal gold miners used diggers made by Caterpillar, HD Hyundai, John Deere and Volvo. A 2023 follow-up investigation by Greenpeace found that 43% of excavators used for illegal gold mining on Kayapó, Munduruku, and Yanomami Indigenous Lands in the Amazon were made by one company: HD Hyundai Construction Equipment. 

HD Hyundai

HD Hyundai Construction Equipment (not to be confused with the car company Hyundai Motor Group) is a subsidiary of HD Hyundai. The parent company has been accused of exploiting migrant laborers on shipyards in South Korea in late 2023. HD Hyundai has also been named as one of the investors financing the military junta that seized control of Myanmar (Burma) in a violent 2021 coup. 


After Greenpeace’s April 2023 report, environmental activists and Indigenous leaders staged a protest in front of HD Hyundai’s Rio de Janeiro factory, demanding the company track sale of the mechanized diggers. HD Hyundai quickly responded with a statement that it would stop selling the diggers in the region and that it would end its relationship with the BMG dealership that sells the machines.

Company Response

“We deeply agree that the destruction of the Amazon environment due to illegal mining [which is a] serious problem. To prevent illegal use of HD Hyundai Construction Equipment's equipment, we will strengthen our compliance system, and until these measures become effective, we will stop selling heavy construction equipment (including maintenance and parts provision).” – HD Hyundai press release.

📸 © Tuane Fernandes / Greenpeace

This is #78 in our series of Instagram infographics on resistance against corporate power.

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