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Kaolin mining by Mibal company, Braga, Portugal

The 'endless controversy' and serious divergences between the company and local residents over kaolin mining since the '60s, as their wells dried up and due to the lack of maintenance of the craters opened up by the mine.


The Barqueiros mine, SA-Mibal, was opened in 1965 with the purpose of exploiting the mineral deposits of kaolin - a white sedimentary mineral used to manufacture ceramics and paints – located on a farm far from the center of the parish. Serious divergences between the company and local residents soon began to emerge, however, as their wells dried up and due to the lack of maintenance of the craters opened up by the mine.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Kaolin mining by Mibal company, Braga, Portugal
State or province:Braga
Location of conflict:Barqueiros, Barcelos
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Kaolin ( Other Names: Argile de Chine, Argilla, Bolus Alba, Caolín, China Clay, Heavy Kaolin, Hydrated Aluminum Silicate, Kaolin Léger, Kaolin Lourd, Light Kaolin, Porcelain Clay, Silicate d’aluminium hydraté, Terre à Porcelaine, White Bole)
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Level of Investment: ~50,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population: Barqueiros, Vila Seca e Milhazes parishes: ~2700 inhabitants
Start of the conflict:01/01/1965
Company names or state enterprises:Mina de Barqueiros S.A (Mibal) from Portugal - Company that has the concession to explore kaolin
Relevant government actors:Direção Geral de Energia e Geologia (Directorate General for Energy and Geology)
Ministério do Ambiente, Ordenamento do Território e Energia (Ministry of Environment, Territory Planning and Energy)
Câmara Municipal de Barcelos (Barcelos Town Hall)
Junta de Freguesia de Barqueiros (Barqueiros Parish)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:New
Associação Nacional de Conservação da Natureza (Quercus)
Comissão de Luta Contra a Exploração de Caulinos
Grupo de Estudo de Ordenamento do Território e Ambiente (GEOTA)
Movimento Cívico de Barqueiros
Movimento Pela Vida, Contra o Caulino
Movimento Somos Figueira
Pela População, Não ao Caulino
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
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: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Desertification/Drought, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Mine tailing spills
Potential: Noise pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Other environmental related diseases, Other Health impacts, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Potential: Displacement, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Institutional changes
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Em 1989, a Mibal insistiu mais uma vez em dar início a esta nova exploração. A população foi novamente às ruas. A atuação das forças policiais levou à morte de um jovem de vinte anos.
Development of alternatives:Suspend the project.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The fight against different kaolin mining has long delayed the exploitation in Barqueiro parish center. Some environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area was made.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Schmidt, Luísa. (2008). Ambiente e políticas ambientais: escalas e desajustes. In Villaverde, M et all. (orgs.). Itinerários – a investigação no ICS. Lisboa: Imprensa de Ciências Sociais.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

News Article. Acordo de exploração dos caulinos não está a ser cumprido

Polémica sem fim

(Agreement on kaolin exploitation is not being complied

Endless controversy)
[click to view]

News Article. Petition and claim for a counter report
[click to view]

Article. Quercus and GEOTA against kaolin
[click to view]


QUERCUS. Concessão e exploração de caulinos no distrito de Coimbra. Quercus. jun. 2014.
[click to view]


O PALHETAS NA FOZ. Todos contra a exploração de caulinos no Bom Sucesso e em Ferreira-a-Nova. Jornal Online O Palheta da Foz, Portugal, 21 fev. 2014.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network


Junho 1989, "Kaolin War"
[click to view]


PAeM – Vídeos sobre o Caulino
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Fracisco Fernandes, Lays Silva and Lúcia Fernandes
Last update18/08/2019
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