We glance around at the wasteland that was rainforest, its handful of remaining trees, cache pools contaminated with liquid mercury, and bone-tired men risking death every day in the Amazon basin. Eventually, untold tons of mercury will seep into the rivers.
Alipio gazes out at the ruined landscape and its tent city. “If gold is no longer worth getting out of the earth here, the people will depart,” he says, gesturing across the tableau of ruin—mud, poisoned water, vanished trees. “And the world left behind here?” he asks. “What’s left will look like this.”
Donovan Webster lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. Photographer Ron Haviv is based in New York City.