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Installation of the pipeline of the company Ferrous Resources do Brasil S.A. in the municipality of Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Popular mobilisation against the land dispossession and water impacts of an iron ore pipeline force Ferrous company to withdraw and cancel its project in Minas Gerais.



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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Installation of the pipeline of the company Ferrous Resources do Brasil S.A. in the municipality of Viçosa, Minas Gerais, Brazil
State or province:Minas Gerais
Location of conflict:Viçosa
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The entire route of the pipeline from Mina Viga, in Congonhas Minas Gerais, to the port in the municipality of Presidente Kennedy, on the south coast of Espírito Santo would be more than 480 kilometers. The pipeline was planned to initially transport 25 million tons of iron ore per year, with the possibility of expanding to 50 million tons of ore per year in the second phase of operation. Within the pipeline, 1/3 of the transported content would be water and the rest iron ore slurry. The water would be collected from the Paraopeba River, in the municipality of Congonhas, Minas Gerais.

Project area:300
Level of Investment for the conflictive project2,800,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:Approximately 72 thousand people
Start of the conflict:31/01/2011
End of the conflict:01/09/2016
Company names or state enterprises:Ferrous Resources do Brasil S.A. from Brazil
Relevant government actors:1) IBAMA - Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis.
2) MPMG - Ministério Público do Estado de Minas Gerais.
3) MPF - Ministério Público Federal.
4) SAAE - Serviço Autônomo de Água e Esgoto de Viçosa.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:1) PACAB - Grupo de Pesquisa em Conflitos Ambientais, Agricultura e Sociedade.
2) NACAB - Núcleo de Assessoria às Comunidades Atingidas por Barragens.
3) MAB - Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens.
4) IUC - Instituto Universo Cidadão.
5) AGB - Associação de Geógrafos Brasileiros, subseção Viçosa.
6) Campanha pelas Águas e contra o Mineroduto da Ferrous.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Informal workers
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Desertification/Drought, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Withdrawal of company/investment
Proposal and development of alternatives:Those affected asked for the construction of the pipeline to be cancelled. However, alternatively, they required that the route be changed, so as not to impact the water sources of the Municipality of Viçosa.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:In the present conflict, the company Ferrous Resources expressed its withdrawal from the implementation of the pipeline before IBAMA. In this regard, Ferrous discursively linked its decision to the unfavorable economic scenario at the time, given the significant drop in the price of iron ore in the international market. However, the company's stance can also be attributed to its interest in detaching its conduct from the pockets of resistance encountered during the procedure.
The perception of those potentially affected by the pipeline follows a different path: the non-construction of the pipeline meant, in the symbolic field, victory and empowerment, which is very important to demonstrate the relevance and effectiveness of social mobilization in struggles to guarantee rights. In this perspective, social mobilization was recognized as the preponderant factor for the withdrawal manifested by Ferrous, without, however, disregarding the importance of the international economic scenario for the outcome of the conflict. In this way, the environmental conflict gave rise to the construction of environmental justice both in material terms, with the removal of the unfair situation, and in symbolic terms, with the change in the field of values of the populations affected by the pipeline, since the achievements in terms of empowerment were strongly highlighted by actors linked to resistance.
As for the possibility of resuming and relocating the pipeline to other locations or even in the municipality of Viçosa itself (with or without changes in the route), so far there is no concrete evidence of this hypothesis, although the context analyzed allows us to infer that it is of a possible reality.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[1] BRANDT MEIO AMBIENTE. Estudo de Impactos Ambientais: Mineroduto Ferrous Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro e Espírito Santo, julho, 2010.

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] SANTOS, Pollyana Martins. Conflito ambiental, redes sociais e instrumentos legais: uma concepção metodológica do ciclo de reprodução social da injustiça ambiental. 2020. 257 f. Tese (Doutorado em Economia Doméstica) - Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Viçosa, 2020
[click to view]

[5] SANTOS, Pollyana Martins; OLIVEIRA, Marcelo Leles Romarco de. Justiça ambiental e legitimação de direitos: implicações da passagem do mineroduto Ferrous Resources no município de Viçosa/MG pela perspectiva do conflito ambiental entre mineradora e atingidos. Pensar Revista de Ciências Jurídicas, v. 21. n. 03, p. 1055-1085, 2016.
[click to view]

[6] AGB. Relatório sobre os Impactos Socioambientais do Mineroduto da Ferrous na microrregião de Viçosa-MG – Seção Local Viçosa. UFV, Minas Gerais, 2012. 56f.

[7] NACAB - Núcleo de Assessoria às Comunidades Atingidas por Barragens. Manifestação sobre o EIA/RIMA do mineroduto da Ferrous Resources do Brasil. Núcleo de Assessoria às Comunidades Atingidas por Barragens. 2012. 79f.

[9] SAAE - Serviço Autônomo de Água e Esgoto de Viçosa. Considerações sobre os possíveis impactos para o abastecimento de água de Viçosa em razão do traçado do mineroduto da Ferrous Resources do Brasil S.A. sobre a bacia de captação de água Relatório Técnico. Serviço Autônomo de Água e Esgoto de Viçosa. Julho 2012.

[12] Personal collection of the Research Group on Environmental Conflicts, Agriculture and Society. PACAB.
[click to view]

[3] Bautzer, T. 06/12/2018. Vale to buy mid-sized iron miner Ferrous Resources: filing. In Reuters
[click to view]

[4] Juíza do DF suspende compra da Ferrous pela Vale, aprovada pelo Cade. Site Conjur, 06/09/2019
[click to view]

[8] Bacia do Rio Paraopeba, próxima à barragem de Brumadinho, cobre 48 cidades; população supera 1,3 milhão de pessoas. Site Estado de Minas, 25/01/2019
[click to view]

[10] Entenda como a mobilização popular barrou o mineroduto da Ferrous em Minas Gerais. Site Brasil de Fato, Lílian Campelo, 20/05/2018
[click to view]

[11] Blog da Campanha pelas Águas e Contra o Mineroduto da Ferrous
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Pollyana Martins Santos, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brazil, [email protected]
Last update26/12/2022
Conflict ID:6245
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