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Vale's giant S11D iron ore project and Railroad Carajás, Pará, Brazil

S11D is largest iron ore project in the world. Iron ore will be exported through a port located in Maranhão. Vale doubled the Carajás Railroad linking the mine and the port, affecting more than 100 communities in Pará and Maranhão.


S11D is the largest mining project in Vale's history and the largest in the history of iron ore mining in the world. Vale has been investing heavily in this project (6,4 billion dollars for the mine and about 8 billion dollars in the Railroad and Port) to intensify the extraction and export of high quality iron ore. The estimated production capacity of S11D is 90 Mtpa with a high iron content of 66.7% [1]. This production capacity corresponds to approximately one fifth of the total Brazilian iron ore extraction. To enable the massive export of this expanded production, the project also counted on the duplication of the Carajás Railroad – which is 892 km long and passes through 27 municipalities in Pará and Maranhão – and the expansion of the Ponta da Madeira terminal in São Luís (MA) [1]. The operation of S11D initiated at the end of 2016 [2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Vale's giant S11D iron ore project and Railroad Carajás, Pará, Brazil
State or province:Pará
Location of conflict: Canaã dos Carajás and 27 municipalities along the Carajás Railroad
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 processing
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The S11D, with a production capacity of 90 million tons per year, is the largest iron mining project in the world. It is located in the Serra Sul of the National Forest of Carajás, in Pará. The processing facilities are in the municipality of Canaã dos Carajás, outside the National Forest.

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Project area:3,000
Level of Investment:14,300,000,000.00
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:30,000
Start of the conflict:01/01/2008
Company names or state enterprises:Vale (Vale) from Brazil
Relevant government actors:Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES)
Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade (ICMBio)
Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA)
Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária (INCRA)
International and Finance InstitutionsBanco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) from Brazil
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) -
Rede Justiça nos Trilhos -
Centro de Educação, Pesquisa e Assessoria Sindical e Popular (CEPASP)
Movimento Debate e Ação
Observatório Socioambiental do Sudeste Paraense
Direitos Humanos econômicos, sociais, culturais e ambientais (Dhesca) -
Sindicato dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras Rurais de Canaã dos Carajás
Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsRespiratory disorders
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:There were several legal and political impasses for the implementation of this project. Its environmental licensing depended on changes in the Brazilian legislation and the displacement of surrounding rural communities and landless workers, as well as a fragmented analysis of socio-environmental impacts (minimizing the visibility of the serious impacts of the duplication of the railroad). Vale has overcome all these "obstacles" to enable the largest iron ore project in the world.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

[15] Brazil. Decreto no 6.640, de 7 de novembro de 2008. Diário Oficial da União, Brasília, DF, 10 nov. 2008, Seção 1, p.8.
[click to view]

[16] Brazil. Lei no 9.985, de 18 de julho de 2000. Regulamenta o art. 225, § 1o, incisos I, II, III e VII da Constituição Federal, institui o Sistema Nacional de Unidades de Conservação da Natureza e dá outras providências. Diário Oficial da União, Brasília, DF, 19 julho 2000.
[click to view]

[17] Brazil. Decreto de 5 de junho de 2017. Dispõe sobre a criação do Parque Nacional dos Campos Ferruginosos, localizado nos Municípios de Canaã de Carajás e Parauapebas, Estado do Pará.
[click to view]

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

[10] Coelho, T. Projeto Grande Carajás: trinta anos de desenvolvimento frustrado. Rio de Janeiro: Ibase, 2014.
[click to view]

[12] Vale. Projeto Ferro Carajás S11D: Um novo impulso ao desenvolvimento sustentável do Brasil. 2013
[click to view]

[13] Justiça nos Trilhos. Revista Não Vale. S11D duplicará lucros, mas já triplica conflitos. 2017.
[click to view]

[11] Faustino, F. Mineração e Violações de Direitos: O Projeto Ferro Carajás S11D, da Vale S.A. Relatório plataforma DHESCA. Açailândia, 2013.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Vale. Relatório Anual Form 20-F (2002-2018).
[click to view]

[2] Vale. S11D fortalece liderança do minério brasileiro no mercado mundial. 21/dez/2018
[click to view]

[4] Inesc. Um novo parque de proteção integral na Amazônia: uma boa notícia? 03/12/2016
[click to view]

[7] Justiça nos Trilhos. Trabalhadores acampados ocupam estrada que dá acesso ao projeto S11D em Canaã. 22 de fevereiro de 2016.
[click to view]

[5] Justiça nos Trilhos. Mais “chumbo grosso” pode vir por aí! 20 de março de 2017.
[click to view]

[6] El País. Bedinelli. Os sem-terra desafiam a gigante Vale na Amazônia. 11 de dezembro de 2016.
[click to view]

[9] O Estado de São Paulo. Obra Da S11d Faz 90 Famílias Saírem De Vila. 29 Junho 2014 .
[click to view]

[8] Justiça nos Trilhos. Maior projeto da Vale é paralisado por população atingida. 3 de junho de 2014.
[click to view]

[18] Apublica. Processados pela Vale. 23 de novembro de 2017
[click to view]

[14] Justiça nos trilhos. Mapa das comunidades afetadas pelo Programa Grande Carajás. 3 de abril de 2014
[click to view]

[3] ICMBio. O Avanço da Mineração na Floresta Nacional de Carajás, Pará, versus a conservação do Ecossistema de Canga. In: Bossi, D.; Santos, L.; Chammas, D.; Cruz, M (Eds). Não Vale – Duplicação do lucro privado e dos impactos coletivos. 2 ed. Acailândia (MA): Justiça nos Trilhos, 2012.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Documentary "Minerando Conflitos" about S11D
[click to view]

Other documents

A vale extra minérios. Nós produzimos alimentos. Protest in Canaã dos Carajás against Vale, which since 2000 began to buy land from small and medium farmers and settled farmers for the implementation of mining projects.
[click to view]

Occupation of the Carajás Railroad by indigenous communities of Maranhão The Carajás Railroad passes less than 10 kilometers away from the Rio Pindaré indigenous territory, which houses eight villages and is located in the municipality of Bom Jardim, in Maranhão.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Beatriz Macchione Saes, UFF-Brazil, [email protected]
Last update12/02/2019
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