In Brazil, the mining company Vale operates two copper mining projects in the Carajás region (Pará), where Vale has concentrated its investments in recent years based on the extraction of iron ore, nickel and manganese.
The Sossego project started to operate in 2004 and it is located in the municipality of Canaã dos Carajás. Salobo started eight years later in the National Forest Tapirapé-Aquiri in the municipality of Marabá, also in the state of Pará . The construction of the Sossego mine began in 2001. Canaã dos Carajás was then a rural town that had arisen as a result of the implementation of agrarian reform projects in the region during the 1980s. The installation of Sossego was accompanied by increasing pressure for small producers to sell their lands. Throughout the 2000s, Vale also started investments in the S11D iron ore project - the largest iron project in the world - in the same municipality, aggravating the situation of land reform settlers and small producers. It is estimated that approximately one third of the territory of the municipality was acquired by Vale. However, Vale's ownership of land is questioned in many cases. According to José Batista Afonso, a lawyer of Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT), Vale irregularly bought public lands, many of them occupied by agrarian reform settlers. Land acquisitions, possibly many of them untitled, for the construction of the Sossego mine began in the 1990s. This lack of information on the land situation in Canaã dos Carajás, which includes many of the areas acquired by Vale, generates great insecurity for the settlers, hindering rural production and aggravating land conflicts in the region [3, 4, 5]. In addition, settlers would also be the first victims in case of a tailing dam failure in Sossego. The Palmares II settlement, of the Landless Workers Movement (MST), would be the first site hit . Besides land conflicts, Sossego has polluted rivers with toxic effluents and damaged house structures by explosions in the mine. According to Volnei, a former Vale employee: "For copper extraction, they use hydrochloric acid and mercury, which leak into the rivers killing everything" .
In 2004, Vale launched Sossego tailings that should have been confined to artificial lakes directly in the Carajás National Forest. For the damage caused in the Forest, Vale received a fine of US $ 500,000 from IBAMA, but never paid it. Luiz Felippe Kunz Jr., director of IBAMA, believes that Vale does not sign the conversion term of the fine needed to pay it because "in this case they would become confessed defendants in relation to the damage caused, which is not good for the image of a company concerned with the environment" .
In 2002, while the construction of the Sossego mine advanced, Vale bought the entire stake held by Anglo American at Salobo Metais. With this acquisition, Vale held, directly or indirectly through subsidiaries, 100% of Salobo's capital stock. Ten years later, IBAMA granted an operating license to Salobo. The construction of the structures for the copper extraction, processing and transportation lasted five years from 2007 to 2012 [12, 13]. However, all the licensing process was subject of denunciations by the indigenous Xikrin community. They argue that a basic principle of indigenous rights – the right to be heard on any enterprise that affects its territory, its way of life or its culture –, inscribed in the Federal Constitution and object of an international norm (Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization), of which Brazil is a signatory, has not been respected .
A study of the impact of the Salobo project on the indigenous community was not carried out. Although it is outside the legal limits of indigenous lands, the area in which the project was installed is considered by the Xikrin of ancestral use. Every year, between November and March, the Xikrin leave the indigenous land "Xikrin do Cateté" and go to the National Forest Tapirapé-Aquiri, where is located one of the best chestnut trees in the area. In the region, Xikrin young people also train to become warriors. They received teachings on the cultural and traditional knowledge related to hunting, fishing and collecting in the forest. Finally, there was also a cemetery in the areas impacted by Salobo, where the indigenous peoples used to perform an annual ritual [7, 10, 11]. Between 2009 and 2018, in these areas of economic and cultural importance for the Xikrin, Vale opened clearings through which the power transmission lines, the pipeline and the Salobo road pass, knocking down about 300 chestnut trees, along with the rest of the forest on these routes . In July 2018, when Salobo's operating license expired, the Xikrin filed a lawsuit to prevent renewal of the license. This process adds up to the other 14 active processes between the Xikrin and Vale. In addition to Salobo, the Xikrin are impacted by the nickel mining from the Onça Puma mine and iron ore operations, Ferro Carajás and S11D, among others operations. However, impact studies and court rulings never take into account the aggregate and cumulative impact of all Vale's operations on Xikrin indigenous .