Mining in indigenous territories and the RENCA Amazon reserve, Amapá - Pará, Brazil

A broad civil society movement opposed plans for commercial mining in a large protected area in the Amazon, as part of a wider struggle against Brazil's current economic growth policies undermining of socio-environmental rights.


In 2017 Brazil’s then-president Temer, in one of several recent assaults on environmental legislation and indigenous rights, announced that the ‘National Reserve of Copper and Associates’ (RENCA), an area of more than 46,000 square kilometers in the eastern Amazon, divided between the States of Amapá and Pará, will be opened for commercial mining. This encountered an immediate international outcry and, despite being temporarily stopped by the Federal Court, mining is now on the advance as some parts of a new mining code were already rushed through in 2018, threatening not only the area of RENCA but also large parts of the Amazon and its indigenous population.

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Basic Data
NameMining in indigenous territories and the RENCA Amazon reserve, Amapá - Pará, Brazil
ProvincePará / Amapá
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesTantalum
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsRENCA (46,000 sq km) comprises the following protected areas: Parque Nacional Montanhas do Tumucumaque, Florestas Estaduais do Paru e do Amapá, Reserva Biológica de Maicuru, Estação Ecológica do Jari, Reserva Extrativista Rio Cajari, Reserva de Desenvolvimento Sustentável do Rio Iratapuru; as well as the indigenous territories of Indígenas Waiãpi and Rio Paru d’Este.
Project Area (in hectares)4,600,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationmin. 3,700 (not much data available)
Start Date21/08/2017
Company Names or State EnterprisesCompanhia de Pesquisa de Recursos Naturais (CPRM) from Brazil - So far used to have mining research monopoly in RENCA
Vale (Vale) from Brazil
Relevant government actorsBrazilian government & MME (Ministério das Minas e Energia)

Federal Court & Public Prosecutor's Office of Amapá

National Mining Production Department & National Mining Agency

Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAssociation of Indigenous Peoples of Wayana Aparai-Apiwa (APIWA)

Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (Apib)

Mobilização Nacional Indígena

Comitê Nacional em Defesa dos Territórios Frente à Mineração

Catholic Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network

Instituto Socioambiental



Amazon Watch
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 MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Aparai, Wayana and Wajãpi indigenous groups
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseInstitutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
New legislation
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The mobilization against the 2017 signed decree was effective and has forced the government to make a step back. In addition, a broad, diverse movement has emerged to encounter the ruralist attempts to change socio-environmental legislation. As the RENCA case and other venues of this broader struggle show, the economic elites are powerful and may circumvent such resistance by creatively interpreting constitutional law and increasingly pushing through a number of adverse legislative changes while marginalizing opposing voices.
Sources and Materials

29. Da Silva, L.; de Souza Filho, C. (2013): Country Report: Brazil. The Current State of Socioenvironmental Law in Brazil: The New Forest Code, Megaprojects and Threats to Traditional Lands.

28. Loebens, G. (2015): Mining: a devastating threat. CIMI Report “Violence against the Indigenous Peoples in Brazil”.


1. Senra, R. (2017): Mineradoras canadenses souberam de extinção de reserva na Amazônia 5 meses antes do anúncio oficial. 26.08.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

2. BBC (2017): Brazil opens vast Amazon reserve to mining. 24.08.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

3. Ventura, M.; Carneiro, L. (2017): Exploração mineral na Amazônia pode levar a disputas judiciais, 24.08.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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4. Arnold, C. (2017): In the Amazon, a Catastrophic Gold Rush Looms. 18.09.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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5. Gonzalez, A. (2017): 'Revogar a Renca nem é o problema em si', diz ambientalista. 25.08.2017.(Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

13. Greenpeace (2017): Greenpeace denuncia garimpos ilegais na Renca. 19.09.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

7. Greenpeace (2017): Vitória! Após pressão, Temer revoga decreto que extingue a Renca. 25.09.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

8. Instituto Socioambiental (2016): Pretensões Minerárias na Amazônia Legal. Terras Indígenas no Brasil (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

11. Sulivan, Z. (2017): Mining activity causing nearly 10 percent of Amazon deforestation. 02.11.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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14. Embury-Dennis, T. (2017): Isolated Amazon tribe vows to fight international mining companies 'until the last of us is dead'. Indepentent, 25.10.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

18. Mazui, G. (2018): Temer assina decretos que modificam regras do setor de mineração. G1 Globo Online, 12.06.2018. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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23. Lang, C. (2015): Não a PEC 215! Proposed change to Brazil’s constitution would leave indigenous peoples “in the hands of the multinational corporations”., 15.07.2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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9. Instituto Socioambiental (2017): (Enc)Renca! 30.08.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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10. G1 Globo (2017): Extinção de reserva é "ataque à Amazônia", dizem ativistas. 25.08.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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12. Poirier,C. (2017): After Deafening Global Outcry, the Brazilian Government Retreats on Plan to Permit Mining in Massive Amazonian Reserve. Amazon Watch, 01.09.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

20. G1 Globo (2018): MPF fala em 'disfarce' e avalia que decreto federal pode abrir exploração na Renca. 16.06.2018. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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15a. Jiménez, C. (2017): Povo Wajãpi, uma barreira indígena contra a mineração na Amazônia. El País Brasil, 11.09.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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17. Martins, H. (2017): MPF pede suspensão dos efeitos do decreto que extingue Reserva Nacional do Cobre, A Critica, 29.08.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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6. Jiménez, C. (2017): Renca: Temer revoga polêmico decreto que ameaça reservas da Amazônia. El País Brasil, 26.09.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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19. Pacheco, J. (2018): Greenpeace avalia que decreto federal pode provocar 'corrida do ouro'. G1 Globo Online, 20.06.2018 (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

21. Girardi, G. (2018): Novo decreto de mineração reabre possibilidade de exploração da Renca. Estadão, 14.06.2018. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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22. Poirier, C. (2017): Brazil’s National Indigenous Movement: resolute in times of crisis. 05.07.2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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24. Branford, S.; Torres, M. (2017): Brazil 2017: environmental and indigenous rollbacks, rising violence. Mongabay, 27.12.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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27. CAIMBRN (2015): Mineração em Terra Indígena. Portal Coordenadoria das Associações Indígenas do Médio e Baixo Rio Negro (CAIMBRN), 20 August, 2015. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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25. Amazon Watch (2017): Civil Society Organizations Unite in Resistance Against Brazil's Attacks on Environmental and Indigenous Rights Protections. 10.05.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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26. Kimbrough, L. (2018): Ruralists in Brazilian congress put nation’s protected areas at risk. Mongabay, 14.08.2018. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
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16. Aljazeera (2017): Brazil court suspends mining on Amazon's Renca reserve. 20.08.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

30. Instituto Socioambiental (2017): Ato reúne parlamentares e ambientalistas contra retrocessos do governo Temer. 30.08.2017. (Online, accessed 15.08.2018)
[click to view]

15b. Survival International (2017): Brazil: Tribe defy miners – “Our life depends on the life of the earth and the forest”. 31.10.2017.
[click to view]

15c. Mendes, K. (2017): Tribal leaders worried as battle to open up the Amazon to mining rages. Reuters Online, 01.09.2017.
[click to view]

Media Links

Youtube Channel of Mobilização Nacional Indígena
[click to view]

Renca: A realidade do garimpo ilegal
[click to view]

Renca: Greenpeace denuncia garimpos e pistas de pousos ilegais
[click to view]

Povo Wajãpi, uma barreira indígena contra a mineração na Amazônia | Brasil
[click to view]

New Amazon Threat? Mining Deforestation
[click to view]

Other Documents

BRAPRE - 2 President Temer signing decrees (Source: Globo Online / Marcos Corrêa/PR)
[click to view]

BRAPRE - 7 Image by the Comitê Nacional em Defesa - movement, campaigning against the influence of the mining lobby
[click to view]

BRAPRE - 3 A protected area within RENCA (Source: Daniel Beltrá / Greenpeace)
[click to view]

BRAPRE - 8 Tweet during #TodosPelaAmazonia mobilization against RENCA decree and further government policies
[click to view]

BRAPRE - 6 An demonstration during the indigenous Terra Livre campaign (Source: Amazon Watch)
[click to view]

BRAPRE - 1 RENCA and its nine protected areas
[click to view]

BRAPRE - 4 An illegal garimpo within RENCA, detected by Greenpeace (Source: Fábio Nascimento / Greenpeace)
[click to view]

BRAPRE - 5 A Greenpeace protest in Rio after the RENCA abolition (Source: Maria Adelaide Silva / Alamy Stock Photo)
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorMax Stoisser
Last update09/11/2018