Last update:

Iron ore mining in Curral Novo, Piauí, Brazil

Iron mining project and a new railway threaten rural communities in Piauí, in the semi-arid region of Brazil. Opposition strongly supported by Catholic church.


The Brazilian state of Piauí is not traditionally a mining state. However, the existence of reserves of iron ore, diamonds, phosphorus, nickel, marble, limestone and clay and the construction of Transnordestina Railway that will connect Piauí to two important ports (Suape, Pernambuco and Pecém, Ceará) has attracted mining companies in the region. The mining company Brasil Exploração Mineral S.A. (BEMISA), since 2008, began the exploration research in the municipalities of Curral Novo do Piauí, Paulistana and Simões to enable the extraction and exportation of iron ore. BEMISA was founded in the previous year (2007) and, when commodities prices were high, promptly developed 10 mining projects – four of them to extract iron ore – in seven Brazilian states. The BEMISA mining project could affect up to 1000 people mainly in rural communities in Curral Novo do Piauí, among these Baixo dos Belos, Manga Velha, Lagoa do Ovo, Sítio do Juá, Caititu and Garapa. The first mobilizations against the project arose when the process of environmental licensing was already advanced.

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Iron ore mining in Curral Novo, Piauí, Brazil
State or province:Piauí
Location of conflict:Paulistana, Curral Novo and Simões
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
Mineral ore exploration
Land acquisition conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Measured, indicated and Inferred iron ore resources of about 1,003 Mt at low grade (27.05% Fe).

See more
Project area:10,000
Level of Investment:1,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,000
Start of the conflict:15/05/2013
Company names or state enterprises:Brasil Exploração Mineral S.A. (BEMISA) from Brazil - BEMISA started and developed the Planato Piauí Project
Relevant government actors:Piauí Government
VALEC Engenharia, Construções e Ferrovias S.A. (mains shareholdes of Transnordestina Railroad)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Comissão Pastoras da Terra (CPT):
Comunidades Eclesiais de Base (ECB):
Collective Antônia Flo.
Bishop of the Diocese of Picos
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Religious groups
Quilombola communities
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Although there are no official declarations of BEMISA on the subject, more than the conflict with the communities, the delay and the absence of forecasts for the conclusion of Transnordestina Railroad is the most evident reason for the paralysis of the mining project.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Sousa, A.B. Conflito, luta e resistência camponesa no semiárido piauiense frente aos projetos mineração e transnordestina. Instituto de políticas públicas e relações internacionais - UNESP (Master dissertation). São Paulo, 2016.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Mission organized by Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT)-Piauí in region affected by iron ore mining and Transnordestina Railway projects (August 2015)
[click to view]

Map of conflicts involving environmental injustice and health in Brazil (Fiocruz, Brazil)
[click to view]

II Mission to defend Communities affected by Mining organized by Comissão Pastoral da Terra -CPT-Piauí (May 8, 2016)
[click to view]

Training course for Popular Jurists in Mining in Curral Novo (PI) organized by Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) - Piauí (August 2017)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Beatriz Macchione Saes, Usp, [email protected]
Last update10/07/2018
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.