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Mining-metallurgical complex in Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil


The region of Corumba and Ladario, located in the Pantanal biome (Brazilian wetlands) of Mato Grosso do Sul, has the third largest reserve of iron ore in Brazil. The main iron ore mine of the region is the Morro do Urucum. It is estimated that the mountain contains 30 billion tons of jaspilite and 890 million tons of colluvial soil.

The jaspilite has an average of 54% of iron content, while the colluvial soil has in its composition 63% of iron, being considered of excellent quality by mining companies. In the 2000s, when a steel pole in the region was tested, industries installed in the region were found being fuelled by charcoal produced from native wood, in some cases through illegal logging and deforestation carried out within the lands of the Kadiwéu indigenous. Indigenous lands, although recognized, are in dispute and are occupied by farmers and ranchers. Many ranchers allowed the charcoal producers to access the woods in exchange of commissions and the opening of pastures.

Since the 2000s, the Brazilian State has systematically granted license for mineral extraction and stimulated the mining-metallurgical pole in the region, while also performing ad hoc surveillance actions that resulted in the imposition of fines and lawsuits. In January 2006, IBAMA identified deviations and imposed fines of US$ 1,370,000 on Urucum Mineracao and US$ 8,669,000 on Vetorial Siderúrgica Ltda. In 2007, on two occasions, IBAMA, in conjunction with the Federal Police and the Regional Labour Police station, caught MMX steel plant buying illegal charcoal and identified that it came from the Kadiwéu indigenous area. At the site, there were 12 ovens, 40 chainsaws, besides 900 hectares deforested. 

The company was fined in US$ 400,000 by IBAMA [1, 2]. The area was occupied by farms, whose owners are in a court dispute with the indigenous over possession of lands. Thisdispute began more than 30 years ago in 1987 [6].

Due to concern with the environmental integrity of the Pantanal and the impacts of the mining-metallurgical complex on the indigenous peoples, environmental organizations and organizations of support of traditional communities have been active in the conflict. From 2008, the organization Ecologia e Ação (ECOA), the research group Articulação Mineração e Siderúrgia of Rede Brasileira de Justiça Ambiental (AMS-RBJA) and some of the communities gathered to exchange information about the local problems and strategies of struggle. As a result of an extensive local and national mobilization, environmental justice organizations succeeded in establishing a platform for dialogue with companies in order to minimize the impacts of the activity. As a result of this platform, companies financed the completion of a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) of the Mining-Industrial Pole of Corumbá which looked at their influences on the Pantanal biome. This study was conducted by researchers at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and pointed out a number of impacts on ecosystems and communities and simulated future scenarios for the region, also indicating measures for their mitigation and monitoring [5, 7].

In 2008 and 2009, the rising mining-metallurgical pole of Corumbá went through a restructuring period derived from the economic crisis and the negative international macroeconomic scenario, which reduced the international demand for commodities. In 2009, Vale acquired the iron ore operations belonging to Rio Tinto and MMX sold its steel plant to the Vetorial Group, maintaining only the operations of the iron ore mine – which was also suspended more than one time [8, 9, 3]. Unlike Rio Tinto, Vale had no intention of investing in the steel industry in the region, but rather predicted expanding its iron ore operations. In addition to the Morraria de Santa Cruz mine (also known as the Corumbaense Reunida Mining) acquired from Rio Tinto, Vale also produced iron ore and manganese ore in Corumbá, both extracted from the same Urucum Mine since 1981 [10, 11].

With the restructuring of the iron and steel complex in 2008-09, iron ore mining was intensified, while the development of a steel pole and also the demand for charcoal lost importance. Between 2007 and 2009, in the face of such transformations combined with intense inspection of deforestation by IBAMA, the production of charcoal was reduced by more than 70% [14]. Since then, the main conflicts generated by mining in Corumbá are conflicts over water that, in any case, were already important before this restructuring process – mainly because the decreasing flow of water from streams and contamination of rivers [13, 4, 16]. The reduction of water from streams and worsening water quality affects the water supply of various communities. In the traditional Antônio Maria Coelho community, the population came to depend on the supply of kite trucks contracted by the mining company Vale. In 2014, the community decided to bear all costs for the construction of a water supply system, even without any financial help from the mining companies [15].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Mining-metallurgical complex in Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil
State or province:Mato Grosso do Sul
Location of conflict:Corumbá e Ladário
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 ore exploration
Mineral processing
Specific commodities:Iron ore

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The following companies operate or operated in Corumbá: i) Corumba Mineracao Ltda (COMIN), iron mining company linked to Vetiral Steel Group, that extracted about 432,000 tons/year in 2007, a significant part of the extracted ore is sent to the iron pig plant of Ribas do Rio Pardo; ii) Mineração e Metalicos do Brasil Ltda (MMX) has the potential to extract from 2.6 million tons/year of iron ore. In 2007, its steel unit started to operate, with a capacity of 375,000 t/year of pig iron and 400,000 tons/year of laminates, but was sold in 2009; iii) Mineracao Piramide Participacioes (MPP) had a experimental mine that announced production of 180,000 tons in 2007, reaching 1,440,000 tons/year; iii) Mineração Corumbaense Reunida (MCR) was a company of the multinational Rio Tinto – with production of 3 million tons in 2007, and allowed by IBAMA to explore up to 6 million tons/year – that was sold to Vale in 2009; iv) Vale, besides the MCR mine, control the Urucum Mineracao (UMSA), which produce around 2,500,000 tons/year of iron ore and 800,000 tons of manganese ore, besides of ferro-alloys based on the manganese v) Companhia Cimento Portland Itau, has a system that integrates a mine to a cement plant of Grupo Votorantim Cimentos, with limestone production of 550,000 tons/year and cement factory, 330,000 tons/year of clinker and 380.0000 t/yr of cement. All companies export the final product, whether in the form of iron ore, manganese, pig iron, hot-rolled, alloy, clinker or cement [5, 9, 10].

Project area:118000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2000
Company names or state enterprises:Mineracao e Metalicos do Brazil Ltda (MMX) from Brazil
Corumba Mineracao Ltda (COMIN) from Brazil
Mineracao Piramide Participacioes (MPP) from Brazil
Mineracao Corumbaense Reunida (MCR) from Brazil
Rio Tinto (Rio Tinto ) from United Kingdom
Vale (Vale) from Brazil - formerly named Companhia Vale do Rio Doce
Urucum Mineracao (UMSA) from Brazil
Rio Doce Mineracao (RDM) from Brazil
Companhia Cimento Portland Itau from Brazil
Grupo Votorantim Cimentos from Brazil
Relevant government actors:Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente e Recursos Naturais Renovaveis - IBAMA, Polícia Federal , Ministerio Publico do Trabalho , Departamento Nacional de Producao Mineral
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Associacao Civil Ecologia e Acao (ECOA), Rede Brasileira de Justica Ambiental (RBJA)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Referendum other local consultations


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Potential: Malnutrition, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Problems arising from the extraction of charcoal have been reduced with the iron and steel complex crisis, but the problems stemming from growing mining persist.

Sources & Materials

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

[5] La Rovere, Emílio Lébre (Coord). Avaliacao Ambiental Estrategica do Polo Minero-Industrial de Corumba e influencias sobre a Planicie Pantaneira. Relatorio Executivo. Laboratorio Interdisciplinar de Meio Ambiente, Coordenacao dos Programas de Pos-Graduacao em Engenharia (COPPE), Universidade do Brasil (UFRJ), ago. 2008.

[7] Mota, A.C.F.D. Pólos Minero-Siderúrgicos no Brasil: A Contribuição da Avaliação Ambiental Estratégica no Caso de Corumbá. (Dissertação) Programa de Pós-graduação em Planejamento Energético (PPE), COPPE, da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Maio de 2009.

[13] Costa, E.A. Conflito pelas Terras e pelas Àguas: Notas das Relações entre Mineradoras e Proprietários Rurais em Corumbá. Geographia, v. 15, n. 30, 2013.

MAPA DE CONFLITOS ENVOLVENDO INJUSTICA AMBIENTAL E SAUDE NO BRASIL. Carvao para Siderurgia e Mineracao ameaça terras indigenas, aguas, cerrado e matas do Pantanal.

[1] Valor. IBAMA multa MMX por uso de carvao de origem ilegal. Bettina Barros. 08 fev. 2008.

[2] Campo Grande News. IBAMA fecha carvoaria em terra indigena no Pantanal. Marta Ferreira. 29 nov. 2007. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 10 set. 2008.

[3] Exame. MMX suspende producao de minerio de ferro em Corumba. Marcelle Gutierrez. 04 jul. 2013.

[4] Ecodebate IBAMA avalia danos ambientais ao Macico do Urucum pelos impactos da mineracao e de outras intervencoes industriais e agropecuarias na regiao.Mariza Pontes Oliveira. 07 fev. 2009.

[6] Campo Grande News. Funai diz que índios kadiwéu ocupam apenas uma fazenda no Pantanal. Geisy Garnes. 24 nov. 2017.

[8] Vale. Vale conclui a aquisição de Corumbá. 18 set. 2009.

[9] Valor. MMX conclui venda de fábrica no Mato Grosso do Sul. 15 set. 2009.,,ERT93309-16355,00.html

[10] Vale. Conheça as minas do Sistema Centro-Oeste no Mato Grosso do Sul. 30 jun. 2014

[11] Vale. Vale completa 40 anos de operação no Mato Grosso do Sul. 8 abr. 2016.

[12] Mato Grosso do Sul. Demanda mundial puxa exportações de minério de ferro do maciço de Urucum. Edmir Conceição dos Santos. 18 fev. 2018.

[14] Campo Grande News. Combate a carvão ilegal reverte desmatamento no Pantanal. 9 jun. 2010.

[15] EcoDebate. MS: Comunidade prejudicada por mineradoras vai construir o próprio sistema de abastecimento de água em Corumbá. 30 abr. 2014.

[16] Midiamax. Denúncia atribui morte de peixes a vazamento em barragem da Vale. Catarine Sturza. 11 mar. 2016.

[17] Imasul. Força-tarefa coordenada pelo Imasul vai a Corumbá nesta terça-feira vistoriar barragens. 28 jan. 2019.

Meta information

Contributor:Diogo Rocha
Last update12/03/2019
Conflict ID:232



Antônio Maria Coelho, Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul

The traditional community Antônio Maria Coelho affected by Vale operations in Corumbá

Maciço do Urucum in Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul

Maciço do Urucum, where is located the Urucum Mine of Vale