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Niobium mining project extraction in Raposa Serra do Sol, Roraima, Brazil

Indigenous groups from Raposa Serra do Sol threatened by Jair Bolsonaro's and the world market's interest in niobium extraction.


The Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil from 1988 prohibits commercial farming and mining on indigenous reserves without specific congressional approval [11]. Still, Brazil's hard-right president, Jair Bolsonaro – who has described indigenous people as "like animals in zoos" [2] – wants to change that and desprotect indigenous groups to open up the Amazonian  terrtories to both public and private investments for the expansion of extractive industries. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Niobium mining project extraction in Raposa Serra do Sol, Roraima, Brazil
State or province:Roraima
Location of conflict:Raposa Serra do Sol
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Molybdenum. Niobium
Project Details and Actors
Project details

-Niobium is a rare metal produced by the action of magma in the earth. Most niobium production is in Brazil and Canada. Brazil’s Araxá Mine has by far the highest reserves and production volume [8]

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Project area:1.7 million hectares
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:25,000 indigenous people
Start of the conflict:2019
Company names or state enterprises:Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração (CBMM) (CBMM) from Brazil
Relevant government actors:National Indian Foundation (Funai), Government of Brazil
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR)
Instituto Socioambiental (ISA)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Displacement, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Proposal and development of alternatives:-sustainable agricultural projects for indigenous communities.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Too early to know if Bolsonaro's political project will reach to push back the law which recognised indigenous rights over Raposa do Sol's territory.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[11] Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil
[click to view]

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

[10] Robinson, Andy (2020) "Oro, Petróleo y Aguacates". Chapter 3. Editorial Arpa. Barcelona

[1] Private interests threaten Brazil’s Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Territory
[click to view]

[3] Bolsonaro defende exploração de Raposa Serra do Sol
[click to view]

[4] Mineral resources in the Amazon, a relationship of sovereignty and environmental conflicts
[click to view]

[5] Brazil tribal lands under new threat from farmers, miners
[click to view]

[6] Au Brésil, Bolsonaro veut exploiter la réserve de Raposa Serra do Sol
[click to view]

[7] Bolsonaro shapes administration: Amazon, indigenous and landless at risk
[click to view]

[8] Niobium Project in Brazil
[click to view]

[9] Niobium’s silent impact in Brazil
[click to view]

[2] 'We are fighting': Brazil's indigenous groups unite to protect their land
[click to view]

Other comments:“We won’t let this land be destroyed.”Edinho de Souza, the CIR’s vice-coordinator from the Macuxi tribe

“The land is our mother. You plant, you take from her, you use her but you respect her, taking care of her,” she said, adding that white people “don’t respect our nature” Mariana Tobias, 71, a Macuxi shaman
Meta information
Last update21/06/2020
Conflict ID:4182
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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