Iron ore mining and mineroduct, Morro do Pilar, Minas Gerais, Brazil

A major iron ore mining export venture in Minas Gerais threatens traditional communities and biodiversity, includes a 500 km pipeline transporting the ore to a port terminal in Espírito Santo.


With the objective of extracting and exporting iron ore from Morro do Pilar in Minas Gerais (Brazil), former Vale and MMX executives created the company Manabi S.A. in 2011. The export of iron ore pellets from the region also depended on the construction of a 512 kilometers pipeline or mineroduct, in 19 municipalities of Minas Gerais and 4 in Espírito Santo, and of a  ocean port terminal in the municipality of Linhares (Espírito Santo). The region is already affected by the Anglo American-owned Minas-Rio iron ore project, located in the neighboring municipality of Conceição do Mato Dentro. Morro do Pilar received 19 kilometers of Anglo American pipeline in 2011. During this period, the environmental licensing process of the Morro do Pilar Project was also initiated. The first public hearing to present the venture, part of the licensing process, was held in October 2012 and had the participation of 700 people. At the hearing, Manabi S.A. had shown strong support from the city hall and local trade associations. However, in December 2012, the Minas Gerais Public Prosecutor's Office questioned the licensing process through an inquiry, which emphasized the need for more in-depth studies on the prevention and compensation of the negative impacts of the project. As a result, Manabi signed a Preliminary Statement of Commitment and Social and Environmental Responsibility, pledging to cover the environmental control measures in the course of the licensing process, as well as the analysis of the environmental studies presented to the environmental agency.

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Basic Data
NameIron ore mining and mineroduct, Morro do Pilar, Minas Gerais, Brazil
ProvinceMinas Gerais and Espírito Santo
SiteMorro do Pilar and 23 other municipalities through which the pipeline passes
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
Mineral processing
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesIron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe nominal production capacity is of 25.5 million metric tons per annum (Mtpa) of iron ore.

The reserve is of 1.33 billion tons of measured and indicated resources and 312 million tons of inferred resources.

Mineroduct (pipeline) of 512 km.
Project Area (in hectares)16000 (excluding the pipeline)
Level of Investment (in USD)2,000,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population10,000
Start Date22/10/2012
Company Names or State EnterprisesMLog S.A. from Brazil - The company owns iron ore mining rights in Morro do Pilar, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The company also owns 3,000 acres of land for the development of industrial multi-port in Linhares, Brazil.
Relevant government actorsIBAMA - Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources

Federal Public Prosecutor

Public Ministry of Minas Gerais

Government of the State of Minas Gerais

City Hall of Morro do Pilar

Environmental justice organisations and other supportersADDAF – Associação de Defesa e Desenvolvimento Ambiental de Ferros.

Associação de Conservação Ambiental Orgânica (ACAÓ) – Santa Maria de Itabira.

Brazilian Association of Anthropology.

Group Environmental Thematic Studies (GESTA) of the Federal University of Minas Gerais.
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 MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Quilombolas and Krenak
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills, Groundwater pollution or depletion
OtherThreat to Dermochelys coriacea (leatherback turtle).
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Violations of human rights
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesAt first it seemed that the movements contrary to the project had succeeded in suspending the project as a whole. IBAMA determinedy the infeasibility of the pipeline and port projects and recommended that a new location was studied for the port and that several clarifications of impacts were provided. After the reduction in the international price of iron ore, MLog's focus shifted from mining to logistics of port terminals and shipping.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The suspension of the project was only temporary and was due in large part to the negative outlook for the international iron ore market. From 2018, the company restarted the licensing process at the Morro do Pilar mine, and the mobilization against the project now appears to be less important. One possible reason is that a more fragmented licensing process (the pipeline is not yet being licensed and the port is likely to be licensed from the Espírito Santo environmental agency rather than IBAMA) generates less articulation between different organizations and associations.
Sources and Materials

Von Sperling, B., Pereira, D. 2018. Conflitos e contradições no município de Ferros: o mineroduto Manabi. Revue Franco-Brésilienne de Géographie, v.35.
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GESTA (UFMG). 2016. Relatório de Pesquisa Morro do Pilar - Complexo Minerário Manabi/MLog. Projeto Nova fronteira minerária, land-grabbing e regimes fundiários: consequências socioambientais e limites da gestão de conflitos (CNPq 445550/2014-7).
[click to view]

GESTA. 2014. Parecer sobre o mineroduto Morro do Pilar-MG a Linhares-ES. Programa de Extensão: Observatório dos Conflitos Ambientais no estado de Minas Gerais: tecnologias sociais e justiça ambiental (SIEX-500301) Coordenação: Profª. Drª. Andréa Zhouri.
[click to view]


Observatory of the environmental conflicts of Minas Gerais - description of the Morro do Pilar project
[click to view]

Map of conflicts of environmental injustice and health in Brazil - description of the mining conflict in Morro do Pilar and the pipeline in Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo
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"MLog resumes a millionaire project in Morro do Pilar": News from March 2018 with excerpts from an interview with the Technical Director of Mlog
[click to view]

Media Links

Avaaz Petition to IBAMA: "Do not license the MANABI (pipeline and port) enterprise!"
[click to view]

Other Documents

Traditional community of Morro do Pilar Source:ão-no-caminho-da-manabi-1.942087
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorBeatriz Macchione Saes, Usp, [email protected]
Last update21/07/2018