Gandarela Mountain Range (Minas Gerais), against mining iron


In the Gandarela Mountain Range - located in the Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte City, Brazil - there is a proposal from Vale S/A mining company for a production of 24 million tons of iron ore per year, for 17 years, the project is called Apolo Mine. The resistance movement makes a strong political pressure to avoid the threat of mining and proposed the creation of Gandarela National Park, a government instrument that does not allow mining. The institute ICMBio, that promotes the creation of parks in Brazil, did studies showing the importance of preserving the area due to the high biological diversity, large area of aquifer recharge, paleontological and historical notable attributes. The Park’s establishment is already a consensus among government, mining companies, and civil society, but the conflict lies in its exact delimitation, which portion may be or not excluded from the park to mining. The resistance movement also produced studies that contradict the arguments of generating employment and income from mining, proving that even the economic benefits of community-based tourism are major and lasting. Another important argument that produces popular pressure against mining is that iron ore mining imperils the exterminates the huge natural aquifer, and thus significantly undermines the public water supply.

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Basic Data
NameGandarela Mountain Range (Minas Gerais), against mining iron
ProvinceMinas Gerais State
SiteCaeté, Santa Bárbara, Raposos and Rio Acima
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Water access rights and entitlements
Mineral ore exploration
Specific Commodities
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsApolo Mine is prospecting to produce 24 million tonnes of iron ore per year. The project includes: plant, waste dumps (315 hectares), rail spur with 22 kilometers long and the construction of a tailings dam (344 hectares).

Project Area (in hectares)1728
Level of Investment (in USD)2100000000
Type of PopulationUrban
Potential Affected Population5000000
Start Date2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesVale S.A. (Vale) from Brazil - formerly named Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (Brazil)
Relevant government actorsMMA , ICMBio , SEMAD , SUPRAM-CM , MPE , MPF
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMovement for the Preservation of Gandarela Mountain Range, MovSAM - Movement of Mountain Ranges and Waters of Minas, Manuelzão Project, MACACA (cultural, artistic and environmental Movement of Caeté)
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 MobilizingLocal ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, 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
OtherIronstone Caves

Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
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..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
OtherThreat to water supply of city of Belo Horizonte
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseLand demarcation
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesCreation of a National Park

Community-based tourism
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The project has been stopped by the political pressure of the local resistance movement: by the proposal to create a national park, the arguments that oppose mining, especially arguments that show damage to the water supply from the aquifer.
Sources and Materials



Precautionary Principle


Article: The resistance against the giant Vale mining company is growing worldwide.
[click to view]

Environmental Conflicts Map of Minas Gerais/Brazil:
[click to view]


The resistance movement site:
[click to view]

Petition in english:
[click to view]

[click to view]

Save Gandarela on Vimeo
[click to view]

Fore strivers
[click to view]

Media Links

[click to view]

video: The right to say NO
[click to view]

Images from Gandarela
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorAndréa Zhouri /Carolina Hermann C de Souza
Last update08/04/2014