Iron ore mining in Caetité, BA, Brazil

BAMIN, controlled by ERG holding, creates conflict over water in the Brazilian semi-arid region. The first major iron ore project in Bahia, part of the new mining frontier in Brazil, threatens the way of life of small farmers and traditional communities.


Since 2006, the company Bahia Mineração (BAMIN) is developing a large iron ore mining project in Caetité in the south of Bahia, one of the new mining frontiers in Brazil. BAMIN was formed by the Indian company Zamin Ferrous specially for exploiting iron ore in Bahia. Between 2008 and 2010, all its shares were acquired by the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) from Kazakhstan, which was later transformed in the Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), holding company based in Luxembourg. The project, named Pedra de Ferro (iron stone), was designed to have its iron ore transported by the Brazilian West-East Integration Railroad (FIOL), which is being built by the Federal Government, and by the South Port (Ilhéus, Bahia), which is being built by the Bahia Government in partnership with BAMIN itself – both large enterprises responsible for various conflicts in southern Bahia.

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Basic Data
NameIron ore mining in Caetité, BA, Brazil
SiteCaetité and Pindaí
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Land acquisition conflicts
Tailings from mines
Specific CommoditiesIron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsPedra de Ferro Project was designed to produce 20 million tons of iron ore per year.
Project Area (in hectares)3,926
Level of Investment (in USD)3,000,000,000.00
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population10,000
Start Date28/07/2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesEurasian Resources Group (ERG) from Kazakhstan
Bahia Mineração (BAMIN) from Brazil - BAMIN started and developed the Pedra de Ferro Project
Zamin Ferrous from India
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Transport

Bahia Government

Federal Government
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMAM – Movimento pela Soberania Popular na Mineração (

CPT - Comissão Pastoral da Terra (
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Trade unions
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Air pollution, Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseStrengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesThe main proposals discussed at the Popular Assembly of Mining for water and life protection (June 3, 2017) are: immediate suspension of the tailings dam license; recognition of public lands; the fulfillment of the conditions established in the licensing process for the relocated families, respect for the environment, land and water. The Assembly was organized by Movimento pela Soberania Popular na Mineração ( MAM), Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) and the Rural Workers' Unions of Pindaí.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.In response to the mobilizations of the communities around the project, the Bahia Public Prosecutor's Office, in October 2017, recommended that the Bamin tailings dam should not be implanted in the Permanent Preservation Area (APP) Pedra de Ferro River, located in Caetité and Pindaí (BA). However, the completion of the project seems inevitable and the final outcome of the conflict, even in relation to tailings dam, is still uncertain.
Sources and Materials

Popular victory: prosecutor recommends that Bamin not implant tailings dam in Permanent Preservation Area (MAM, 2017a)
[click to view]

Map of Environmental Justice and Health in Brazil (Fiocruz/Brazil). Description of the conflict in Caetité related to Bamin's iron ore Project.
[click to view]

Letter - Popular Assembly of Mining, organized in Pindaí (Bahia), June 3, 2017
[click to view]

Letter - Comissão Pastoral da Terra describing hearings in southwestern Bahia (July 2009)
[click to view]

Letter - Territorial and Environment Committe, December 20, 2009. Letter rejecting the iron ore project in Caetité.
[click to view]

Letter - Atingidos pela Bamin-Fiol-Porto Sul (Ilhéus, Bahia, October 28, 2011)
[click to view]

Occupation at the headquarters of Inema is a result of the political organization of communities (MAM, 2017b)
[click to view]

CPT Bahia helps communities impacted by mining project to create georeferenced maps with the delimitation of areas of common use (Comissão Pastoral da Terra, 2014)
[click to view]

Database of the Mineral Technology Center (Ministry of Science Technology and Education, Brazil) that presents case studies on socio-environmental effects of mining in Brazil.
[click to view]

Media Links

Video about communities that depend on rivers whose springs may be compromised by the Bamin Project.
[click to view]

Other Documents

Popular Assembly of Mining in Pindaí (Bahia) Popular Assembly of Mining in Pindaí (Bahia) on June 3, 2017.
[click to view]

Occupation of INEMA (Institute of Environment and Water Resources of Bahia) Occupation of INEMA (Institute of Environmental and Water Resources of Bahia) by farmers and social movements in Alto Sertão da Bahia (Bahia), on November 27, 2017.
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorBeatriz Macchione Saes, Usp, [email protected]
Last update12/01/2018