Itataia Project for Uranium and Phosphate mining in Santa Quitéria, Ceará, Brazil

The federal government in Brazil is interested in extracting uranium and phosphate in Ceará, the Anti-nuclear Network together other EJOs are concerned about health and environmental risks. The project has not started.


In 1976 a mineral deposit of uranium was discovered in the municipality of Santa Quitéria, State of Ceará.  In 2006, the federal government shows interest in exploring the deposit. By this year (2016), the aim of the Brazilian Nuclear Industries (INB) was to extract uranium and phosphate (for the agroindustry). As well, in accordance with the Government of the State of Ceará, the uranium will be use for the nuclear energy plant in Rio de Janeiro (Angra III). In 2009, Brazilian Nuclear Industries and Galvani (Brazilian enterprise) created the Consortium Santa Quitéria for the investment of the project called Mina de Itataia; Yara (Norway) joined the group. This mine is the largest reserve of uranium in the country and its economic viability depends on the associated phosphate exploration. This means that the uranium extraction is subject to the production of phosphoric acid-raw material used in the production of fertilizers (agroindustry).  By the end of 2008, rural communities with support of the University of Ceará, agrarian and environmental justice organization such as Vía Campesina, the Brazilian Network of Environmental Justice, others local EJOs, and a religious group start a platform for opposing to the mine, the main causes were the high level of health risk, the high level of water use (according with other similar mines is around 1.150.000 liters per hour) in a water scarce zone. In 2011, the accident in Fukushima strengthened the Santa Quitéria communities. The same year they created the Articulação Antinuclear do Ceará (Anti-nuclear network in Ceará) to debate around the possible risks, social and environmental impacts of the mine. This Network helped the mobilization of communities directly affected by the mine and is associated with the Articulação Antinuclear Brasileira (National Network against Nuclear Energy). As part of the Environmental License required, the IBAMA (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) called for public audiences to explain the project and offer different types of benefits (work, development, roads, etc..).  However, the works have not even been initiated due to lack of environmental license. The Santa Quitéria Consortium official discourse affirms the mine was postponed to be exploited in the year 2017. 

Basic Data
NameItataia Project for Uranium and Phosphate mining in Santa Quitéria, Ceará, Brazil
SiteSanta Quitéria
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Uranium extraction
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesPhosphates
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe mineral deposit of Santa Quiteria has geological reserves of 142,500 tons of uranium associated with phosphate. The mineable reserve is 79.5 million tons.

Phosphate rock 800,000 tons per year

Fertilizers 810,000 tons per year

Bicalcic phosphate (animal feed) 240,000 tons per year

Uranium 1600 tons per year

It will bring between 1000-3000 work posts (direct and indirect).
Level of Investment (in USD)380,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population170 000 -190 000
Start Date2006
Company Names or State EnterprisesGalvani from Brazil - concessionare
Consórcio Santa Quitéria - owner
Yara Brazil Fertilizantes S.A from Norway
Relevant government actorsFederal Government of Ceará (FGC), Brazilian Nuclear Industries (INB), Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA), Secretaria Meio Ambiente Estado do Ceará (SEMACE), Ministerio de Minas e Energia (MME), National Commission of Nuclear Energy (CNEC)
International and Financial InstitutionsBanco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) from Brazil
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersVía Campesina, Brazil Network of Environmental Justice (Rede Justiça Ambiental), Cáritas Brazil, Cactus Organization, Instituto Bioma, Movimento Sem Terra (MST),Articulação Antinuclear do Ceará (AACE), Articulação Antinuclear Brasileira (AAB), Coletivo Urucum (CU), Brazil Fund of Human Rights (FBDH), Cáritas Diocesana de Sobral do Ceará (CDSC), Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) ,
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 MobilizingNeighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Universities (Universidade Federal do Ceará).
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Mine tailing spills
OtherWater sovereignty
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Accidents, Malnutrition, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseStrengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Development of Alternatives-Renewal energies such as Solar plants

-Familiar agriculture
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The project remains stopped. And there is a strengthening of participation and national networking, such as Articulação Antinuclear do Ceará (born under the struggle for this project). As well, the increasing knowledge in the rural communities about nuclear energy and its possible risks.
Sources and Materials

‘No Ceará – A peleja da vida contra o urânio’
[click to view]

The itatiaia mine in Santa Quitéria city- CE: the uranium and the risks of exploration
[click to view]


Itatira debate impactos da Mina de Itataia na zona rural
[click to view]

Consórcio Santa Quitéria esclarece população durante audiências públicas promovidas pelo Ibama
[click to view]

Exploração da Mina de Itataia ficará para 2020
[click to view]

Mapa Fiocruz
[click to view]

Santa Quitéria: audiência pública sobre projeto de mineração de urânio e fosfato na mina de Itataia
[click to view]

Industrias Nucleares do Brasil
[click to view]

Jazida de Itataia, uma bomba-relógio no coração do Ceará
[click to view]

Santa Quitéria Consortium official page
[click to view]

Media Links

Impactos da exploração de urânio no Brasil - Parte 1
[click to view]

Other Documents

[click to view]

Anti nuclear network
[click to view]

Campaign against Santa Quitéria Project
[click to view]

Other CommentsVoc ENVJustice Mov

Reforma agraria sim, uranio não!

“A defesa da vida e a resistência antinuclear no Brasil”
Meta Information
ContributorENVJustice (GN)
Last update12/10/2016