Gold mining in Paracatu, Minas Gerais, Brazil


Until 1980 the Paracatu economy was based on small farming and artisanal exploitation of the gold deposit existing in the municipality. This small-scale economy was the main source of livelihood for three quilombolas communities. In 1987, the Rio Paracatu Mineracao (RPM), authorized by the National Department of Mineral production-DNPM and the Government of the State of Minas Gerais, began the industrial exploitation of gold in the region. Later the RPM was acquired by Kinross Gold Corporation (KGC).

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Basic Data
NameGold mining in Paracatu, Minas Gerais, Brazil
ProvinceMinas Gerais
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
Tailings from mines
Mineral processing
Specific Commodities
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsGold mining in Paracatu is responsible for about 25% of the Brazilian gold production.

The mine extracts 17 tons of gold per year.

The life of the mine is estimated at 30 years.

Level of Investment (in USD)1000000000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date1987
Company Names or State EnterprisesRio Paracatu Mineracao (RPM) from Brazil
Kinross Gold from Canada
Instituto de Tecnologia Socioambiental de Paracatu (ITP) from Brazil
Relevant government actorsFundacao Cultural Palmares - FCP, Instituto Nacional de Colonizacao e Reforma Agraria - INCRA, Ministerio Publico Federal - MPF, Comissao de Meio Ambiente e Recursos Naturais da Assembleia Legislativa de Minas Gerais - ALMG, Conselho de Politica Ambiental de Minas Gerais - COPAM, Policia Militar do Estado de Minas Gerais - PMEMG
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAssociacao Quilombola de Machadinho, Centro de Documentacao Eloy Ferreira da Silva - CEDEFES, Fundacao Acangau, Federacao Quilombola do Estado de Minas Gerais - NGOLO
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingArtisanal miners
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated 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
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
public hearings
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
OtherA member of the quilombola community of Santo Domingo was arrested unjustly by mine gold in part of the traditional territory of the community now under the possession of the company.
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Criminalization of activists
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Mining activities remain and there are no actions to mitigate its impacts.
Sources and Materials

PROJETO de lei a provado na Camara podera paralisar atividades da Kinross em Paracatu. , 17 jul. 2012. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 31 jan. 2013.
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MAPA DE CONFLITOS ENVOLVENDO INJUSTICA AMBIENTAL E SAUDE NO BRASIL. Poluicao ambiental grave e persistente, exposicao cronica ao arsenio e outras substancias toxicas, alem de expulsao de comunidades tradicionais, sao algumas das consequencias da extracao
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DANI, Srgio Ulhoa. Arsenio liberado pela Kinross em Paracatu ja esta bioacessivel, revela estudo. Ecodebate, 21 mai. 2012. Disponvel em: Acesso em: 31 jan. 2013.
[click to view]

(In Portuguese)


DANI, Sergio Ulhoa, Doenas ligadas a mineracao de ouro em Paracatu. Jornal Alerta Paracatu. 21 jun. 2008. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 07 jan. 2009.
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FURTADO, Bernardino, Extracao de ouro ameaca Paracatu. Jornal O Estado de Minas, 13 jul. 2008, p. 21. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 12 jan. 2009.
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MINERADORA Kinross Gold Corporation e impedida de construir estrada em terras de comunidade quilombola em MG. Ecodebate, 11 mai. 2010. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 05 abr. 2011.
[click to view]

PROJETO de lei a provado na Camara podera paralisar atividades da Kinross em Paracatu. , 17 jul. 2012. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 31 jan. 2013.
[click to view]

MATOS, Pablo, Mineradora Kinross ignora direitos de comunidades quilombolas afetadas pela empresa em Paracatu, 27 out. 2011. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 31 jan. 2013.
[click to view]

(In Portuguese)

Media Links

Ouro de Sangue o documentrio sobre a violncia da minerao em Paracatu
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Other CommentsIn accordance with article by Srgio Ulhoa Dani, the amount of arsenic already released by the company plus the one that is estimated to be released in the next 30 years, if only a tiny part of it become bioavailable and is loaded by water and by air, would be enough to kill much of the current world population. For this reason, Dani claims to be the companys activities genocidals.

The Ministerio Publico Federal has worked with the local populations to ensure their basic rights and prevent the continuity of irregularities identified in gold exploration and environmental licensing made by the State of Minas Gerais. The MPF has worked to ensure the territorial rights of quilombolas communities. Public hearings were held to discuss the social and environmental impacts of mining and at least one municipal law has already been approved to prevent the company continue to perform detonations near the urban area of the municipality, because such detonations would be shaking the structure of several houses, some centuries old.
Meta Information
ContributorDiogo Rocha
Last update08/04/2014