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Iron ore mining and mineroduct, Grão Mogol, Minas Gerais, Brazil

Family farmers, urban populations and traditional communities of Minas Gerais are resisting a large iron ore mining project, and plans for a 480-km mineroduct in a semi-arid region, aggravating water scarcity.


The mining company Sul Americana de Metais S.A. (SAM) was constituted by the Brazilian Votorantim Novos  Negócios in 2006. In 2010, it was acquired by the Chinese company Honbridge Holding Limited. SAM's Vale do Rio Pardo project is a major enterprise that includes the extraction of 25 million tons of iron ore per year at a mine located in Grão Mogol and Padre Carvalho in Minas Gerais, the ore beneficiation also in Grão Mogol and the ore transportation to a port in Ilhéus (Bahia) by a mineroduct, measuring about 482 km, that will cross 21 municipalities of the states of Minas Gerais and Bahia. The project also includes the construction of three dams: one aiming to supply Grão Mogol, given that mining will cause population growth, a second for tailings, and the third for the processing of the ore and mineroduct [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Iron ore mining and mineroduct, Grão Mogol, Minas Gerais, Brazil
State or province:Minas Gerais
Location of conflict:Grão Mogol and other 21 municpalities in Minas Gerais and Bahia
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 processing
Water access rights and entitlements
Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The mineable reserve is approximately 2,500 million tons of iron ore, with an average iron content of 20%. It is expected that the transportation of the processed ore, with a minimum content of 65%, will be carried out via a 482 kilometer mineroduct linking the municipalities of Grão Mogol (Minas Gerais) to a public terminal in Porto Sul, in the municipality of Ilhéus (Bahia). For this, 6,200 m3/h of water should be collected from the reservoir of the Igarapé dam, on the Jequitinhonha River.[1]

Level of Investment:1,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/01/2010
Company names or state enterprises:Votorantim Group from Brazil
Honbridge Holding Limited from China
Sul americana de Metais S.A. (SAM) from Brazil - SAM started and developed the Vale do Rio Pardo Project
Relevant government actors:IBAMA - Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis
Government of Minas Gerais
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) (Catholic Church) -
Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (MAB) -
Movimento Geraizeiro
Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT) -
Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Geraizeiros, traditional communities of the North of Minas Gerais
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:Those affected by the mining project ("atingidos") are organized not to let the environmental licenses go through. They are concerned about water rights, land grabbing ("grilagem"), mining tailings and the mineroduct to the coast, and also eucalyptus plantations.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:SAM was unable to obtain the Preliminary License (PL) in the environmental licensing process, but did not abandon the project and intend to be able to execute it. Resistance movements are also organized. It is not yet possible in 2018 to know what the outcome will be.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Environmental Impact Report - Brandt (2012). Estudo de Impacto Ambiental. SAM. Módulo 3 - descrição do empreendimento. Projeto Vale do Rio Pardo. Nova Lima, Brandt Meio Ambiente.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] Assembleia Legislativa de Minas Gerais (2012). Mineradoras são acusadas de grilagem no Norte de Minas
[click to view]

[5] Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (2015)Na crise da água, IBAMA pode autorizar mais um mineroduto em Minas
[click to view]

[2] Observatory of the environmental conflicts of Minas Gerais - Resistance and fight against the installation of iron mining projects in the microregions of Grão Mogol and Salinas
[click to view]

[4] Comissão Pastoral da Terra (2014) - Povos tradicionais resistem à grilagem e violação de direitos no Norte de Minas
[click to view]

[7] Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens - MAB (2014) - Atingidos protestam em defesa das águas e contra o mineroduto em MG
[click to view]

[8] Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens - MAB (2014) Protestos reivindicam o fim da mineração no semiárido mineiro
[click to view]

[9] IBAMA (2016) Ibama rejeita projeto de mineração em MG que teria maior barragem do país
[click to view]

[6] FIOCRUZ - Mapa de conflitos envolvendo injustiça ambiental e saúde no Brasil (2014) Agricultores familiares e população urbana atingida pelo Projeto Vale do Rio Pardo lutam para que o Licenciamento Prévio não seja emitido e pela revogação do Decreto n°30
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Beatriz Macchione Saes, Usp, [email protected]
Last update29/07/2018
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