Uranium mining in Caetite, Brazil


The project consists basically in the mining and milling of uranium in the municipality of Caetite, Bahia state, Brazil. The method of uranium extraction is open-pit mining and the milling process is lixiviation in piles. All mined uranium is to be used domestically, after conversion and enrichment abroad (Canada and Netherlands, respectively). The amount of uranium explored is sufficient to supply the two Brazilian nuclear power plants currently in operation. This case involves workplace accidents, tailing spills, potential soil and water contamination, and uncertain risks (e.g. cancer) to the health of the workers and the population which lives in the surrounded area of the mine.

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Basic Data
NameUranium mining in Caetite, Brazil
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Mineral processing
Uranium extraction
Specific Commodities
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe reserves are estimated at 100,000 tons of pure uranium oxide, without others minerals of interest associated to it. The production capacity of uranium concentrate (yellowcake) is 400 tons/year. But, considering that more nuclear plants are planned in the National Energy Plan 2030, the goal for the next few years is to duplicate production of yellowcake to 800 tons/year.

Project Area (in hectares)130000
Type of PopulationUnknown
Company Names or State EnterprisesNuclear Industries (INB) from Brazil - which is connected to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation of Brazil.
Relevant government actorsBrazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources , Institute of Water Management and Climate of Bahia , Nuclear Energy National Commission (CNEN).
International and Financial InstitutionsInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAssociacao Movimento Paulo Jackson – Etica, Justica, Cidadania (AMPJ); Greenpeace Brasil; Grupo Ambientalista da Bahia (GAMBA); Comissao Paroquial de Meio Ambiente de Caetite; Comissao Pastoral da Terra (CPT); Plataforma Dhesca Brasil
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginUNKNOWN
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Trade unions
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Oil spills, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Desertification/Drought
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Infectious diseases
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..) , Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Under negotiation
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this as a success?No
Sources and Materials

Lei Nacional de Recursos Hidricos (Water Resources Act) Lei numero 9.433, 8 de janeiro de 1997.

Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil


GREENPEACE. O Ciclo do Perigo: Impactos da producao de combustivel nuclear no Brasil. Sao Paulo, Greenpeace Brasil, 2008.

DHESCA BRASIL. Relatorio da Missao Caetite: Violacoes dos Direitos Humanos no Ciclo do Nuclear. 2011.


Mapa da Injustica Ambiental e Saude no Brasil:
[click to view]

Other CommentsIt is also important to mention that there is a brutal case of conflict of interests concerning the regulatory system of the Brazilian nuclear sector, because the most important agency to control radioactive activities is CNEN (Nuclear Energy National Commission), which is at the same time the most important shareholder of INB.
Meta Information
ContributorRenan Finamore
Last update08/04/2014