Copper mining in Canaã dos Carajás and Marabá, Pará, Brazil

Sossego copper mine is criticized for having irregularly purchased lands, while in Marabá, Vale operations met with strong opposition by the Xikrin indigenous groups.


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. 

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Basic Data
NameCopper mining in Canaã dos Carajás and Marabá, Pará, Brazil
SiteCanaã dos Carajás and Marabá
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Tailings from mines
Mineral processing
Specific CommoditiesCopper
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Sossego project began to produce in 2004. It has a nominal capacity of approximately 93,000 tons per year (tpa) of copper concentrates. Vale (then CVRD) invested US $ 413 million in its development [15, 1]. The proven and probable reserves are 244.7 million tons of copper ore, in addition to another 125 million tons inferred. At current extraction levels, production was predicted to last 15 years, meaning its depletion was originally estimated for 2019, but it will be extended probably for another ten years as geological surveys continue.

The Salobo I processing plant started production in 2012. In this first phase, Vale's investment was US $ 2.5 billion. For the expansion of production, with the installation of Salobo II, Vale invested an additional US $ 1.7 billion. And now, with the expansion to Salobo III, Vale will invest more than $ 1 billion again [14]. Salobo I and II have a total capacity of approximately 197,000 tpy of copper concentrates [1]. Salobo's reserves include 1.112 billion metric tonnes of proven and probable tonnes, with an average of 0.69% copper and 0.43 grams of gold per ton [13].

Salobo and Sossego involve the integrated operation of open pit mining, processing, transportation and shipping. Production is carried by road, from the mine to Vale's existing rail terminal in Parauapebas (PA), from where it is transported by the Carajás Railroad to the maritime terminal of Ponta da Madeira (MA) [1].
Project Area (in hectares)200,000
Level of Investment (in USD)5,500,000,000.00
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population10,000
Start Date01/01/2000
Company Names or State EnterprisesVale (Vale) from Brazil
Salobo Metais S.A. from Brazil
Anglo American Brasil from United Kingdom - Shareholder until 2002.
Relevant government actorsIbama - Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis
International and Financial InstitutionsBanco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) from Brazil
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersComissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) -

Justiça nos Trilhos -
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationLand occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
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 StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Despite numerous objections to Salobo's environmental licensing, especially by the indigenous Xikrin community, Vale continues to operate and expand copper extraction. At the same time, the uncertainty and complexity of land ownership in Canaã de Carajás, where Sossego operates, has only been aggravated by the installation of Vale's S11D iron ore mine in recent years.
Sources and Materials

[1] Vale. Formulário de Referência. 2018.
[click to view]

[3] Cabral, E. R., Enríquez, M. A. R. D. S., Santos, D. V. D. Canaã dos Carajás-do leite ao cobre: transformações estruturais do município após a implantação de uma grande mina. CETEM/MCTI. 2001.
[click to view]

[5] Enríquez, M.A. (Coord.). Contradições do desenvolvimento e o uso da CFEM em Canaã dos Carajás. Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas, 2018.
[click to view]

[10] Faustino, C., Furtado, F. Mineração e Violações de Direitos: O Projeto Ferro Carajás S11D, da Vale S.A. Açailândia (MA), DHesca Brasil, 2013.
[click to view]

[11] I Encontro Internacional dos Atingidos pela Vale. Dossiê dos impactos e violações da Vale no mundo. Rio de Janeiro, abril de 2010.
[click to view]


[4] El País. Os sem-terra desafiam a gigante Vale na Amazônia. Talita Bedinelli. 12 dez 2016.
[click to view]

[6] Fundação Rosa Luxemburgo. A ferro e fogo – uma jornada no rastro dos trilhos da Vale. 26 de agosto de 2015
[click to view]

[7] Agência Pública. Indígenas Xikrin abrem nova batalha judicial contra a Vale. Nara Hoifmeister. 30 jul 2018
[click to view]

[8] Portal Canaã. Salobo bate recorde e já produz quase o dobro do Projeto Sossego. Seny Lima. 16.02.2018
[click to view]

[9] Brasil de Fato. Vidas atravessadas: como a Vale afeta o cotidiano de indígenas e sem-terra no Pará. Joana Zanotto. 21 fev. 2019.
[click to view]

[13] Vale. Vale obtém licença de operação para Salobo. 14.11.2012.
[click to view]

[14] Correio. Portal de Carajás. O bem e o mal de Salobo III. 20.09.2018.
[click to view]

[15] Vale. CVRD Inaugura o Projeto Sossego. 02.07.2004.
[click to view]

[2]Piauí. A Vale é verde? As ambigüidades ambientais da segunda mineradora do mundo. Luiz Maklouf Carvalho. Março de 2017.
[click to view]

[12] Vale. CVRD conclui aquisição do controle do projeto Salobo. 19.06.2002.
[click to view]

Other Documents

Xikrin indigenous community Xikrin indigenous community affected by the Salobo project.

Available at:
[click to view]

Palmares II settlement in Canaã dos Carajás (Pará) Geny in the Palmares II settlement in Canaã dos Carajás (Pará)

Available at:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorBeatriz Macchione Saes, UFF-Brazil, [email protected]
Last update04/03/2019