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Titanium mining project (Projeto Retiro) in São José do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil


Description:

The idea to create a mining complex in São José do Norte was already in play around the year 2000. Due to difficulties regarding environmental licenses, the project was halted for many years [12]. Untill 2014, the Rio Grande Mineração S/A (RGM) requested na environmental permit to “Retiro Project” to extract titanium at a site of circa 30km x 1.5km situated between the Patos Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, in the municipality of São José do Norte, in the bottom south of the Rio Grande do Sul state. The area is formed by dunes and sandbanks inhabited by fishermen and small farmers and is in a region considered to be at a Very High priority on the Ministry of Environment's map of “Priority Areas in Brazil” [9].

The total size of the enterprise’s investments reaches 500 millions Reals (approximately 120 millions US Dollars), and aims to generate 6 thousand direct and indirect jobs, 70 millions Reals (16 mi. USD) in tax revenue and would be the only site in Brazil to extract titanium and zircon [3].

Farmers and fishermen said that the project would mean the end of the production of various vegetables and agroecological production, with a reduction in the quality and commercial value of agricultural and fishery products and expressed concern about the quality of the water and groundwater it supplies the region [2]

In 2016, the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) pointed out to the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) serious deficiencies in the enterprise's EIA-RIMA, requesting corrections and holding a new public hearing. However, in June 2017, Ibama issued a preliminary license, valid for four years, for RGM to start the project [5].

In December 2018, the MPF filed two public civil actions against Ibama and the company RGM [5]. In one, it states that Ibama violated the legal order, rights to information and public participation in the environmental licensing of the project; in another, it defends the traditional communities of artisanal fishermen who would be affected by the enterprise [9].

In February 2019, the movement “Não queremos mineração em São José do Norte” (We do not want mining in São José do Norte) presented, in a public hearing at the City Council of São José do Norte, a proposal to amend the Law dealing with the territorial ordering of the municipality, the development policy municipal and urban expansion. The proposal was accepted by the Permanent Commission for Education, Health, Social Action, Services, Public Works and the Environment and forwarded to a plenary vote. The vote took place in April 2019, and the amendment was passed by 7 votes to 1. In May 2019, the mayor signed the new law, banning mining in the municipality [5].

In a memorandum, the movement “We don't want mining in São José do Norte” stated: “Under strong popular appeal, the law passed in the legislative branch was forwarded to the executive branch, which, in turn, sanctioned without veto the amendment proposed by the people , which united the important role of direct democracy in the face of State institutions (...) São José do Norte is free from the offensive of this current mining model that has destroyed both nature and human lives in different regions of Brazil ” [5].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Titanium mining project (Projeto Retiro) in São José do Norte, Rio Grande do Sul, Brasil
Country:Brazil
State or province:Rio Grande do Sul
Location of conflict:São José do Norte
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
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Titanium ores
Zirconium, rutile, ilmenite
Sand, gravel

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Reserves of 531.2 million tons of ore, with about 17 million tons of heavy minerals that can be mined and processed. It is expected to operate for 21 years in a 1.5 km range with an average width of approximately 30 km in length [8] and with a turnover of around 13.75 million m³ [9]

"Presidente da empresa Rio Grande Mineração (RGM), Luiz Augusto Bizzi, sobre o Projeto Retiro, a ser instalado em São José do Norte. O empreendimento fará a extração de minérios de zircônio e titânio. O objetivo é substituir as atuais importações de zirconita e rutilo, e tornar o Brasil um exportador de ilmenita. Ilmenita e rutilo são minerais de titânio, usados para a produção de pigmentos e de ligas especiais para área médica. A zirconita, também conhecida como zircão, é usada na indústria de cerâmicas e refratários e como aditivo em aços especiais."[13].

Level of Investment:120,000,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:01/04/2014
Company names or state enterprises:Rio Grande Mineração S/A from Brazil
Relevant government actors:IBAMA
City Council of São José do Norte
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:1) Não Queremos Mineração em São José do Norte
2) Comitê de Combate à Megamineração no Rio Grande do Sul - https://www.facebook.com/ComiteCombateMegamineracao/?modal=admin_todo_tour
3) Movimento pela Soberania Popular na Mineração - mamnacional.org.br/
4) Fórum da Lagoa dos Patos - https://forumlagoadospatos.furg.br/
5) Laboratório Interdisciplinar Mapeamento em Ambientes, Resistência, Sociedade e Solidariedade (Maréss)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsPotential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Food insecurity (crop damage), Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Other socio-economic impacts, Land dispossession
Other socio-economic impactsThe end of the production of various vegetables and agroecological production, with a reduction in the quality and commercial value of agricultural and fishery products [2].

Outcome

Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:New legislation
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:So far, the project has been stopped, as a result of the amendment to the Municipal Master Plan. The proposed amendment was presented by the social movement "We do not want mining in São José do Norte", approved by the City Council and sanctioned by the mayor. This decision protected fishermen, small farmers, the environment in a region considered to be a Very High priority on the Ministry of Environment's map of “Priority Areas of Brazil”

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[7] LEI COMPLEMENTAR Nº 017, DE 10 DE MAIO DE 2019 (Plano Diretor de São José do Norte)
https://images.sul21.com.br/file/sul21site/2019/06/20190619-planodiretorsjn.pdf

LEI COMPLEMENTAR Nº 017, DE 10 DE MAIO DE 2019 (Plano Diretor de São José do Norte)
https://images.sul21.com.br/file/sul21site/2019/06/20190619-planodiretorsjn.pdf

Univerdidade Federal do Rio Grande: "Impactos da mineração nos pescadores artesanais são debatidos em encontro". Published December 18, 2019, last modified on January 21, 2019.
https://www.furg.br/noticias/noticias-pesquisa-e-inovacao/impactos-da-mineracao-nos-pescadores-artesanais-sao-debatidos-em-encontro

Rio Grande Mineração S/A: "Audiências Públicas". Published on February 23, 2015.
rgminer.com.br/page/2/?s=s%C3%A3o+jos%C3%A9

[2] Brasil de Fato: "População de São José do Norte (RS) manifesta insatisfação com projeto de mineração". Published on May 17, 2019
https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2019/05/17/populacao-de-sao-jose-do-norte-manifesta-insatisfacao-com-projeto-de-mineracao/

[3] Revista News: "Empresa de mineração apresenta projeto para explorar titânio em São José do Norte". Published on September 03, 2019.
https://revistanews.com.br/2019/09/03/empresa-de-mineracao-apresenta-projeto-para-explorar-titanio-em-sao-jose-do-norte/

SUL 21: "Carta de São José do Norte: projetos de mineração representam um 'projeto de morte'". Published on December 16, 2018
https://www.sul21.com.br/areazero/2018/12/carta-de-sao-jose-do-norte-projetos-de-mineracao-representam-um-projeto-de-morte/

Brasil de Fato: "Plano Diretor de São José do Norte (RS) proíbe mineração no município". Published on June 24, 2019.
https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2019/06/24/plano-diretor-de-sao-jose-do-norte-proibe-mineracao-no-municipio/

[11] Universidade Federal do Rio Grande (FURG): "Impactos da mineração nos pescadores artesanais são debatidos em encontro". Published on December 18, 2018.
https://www.furg.br/noticias/noticias-pesquisa-e-inovacao/impactos-da-mineracao-nos-pescadores-artesanais-sao-debatidos-em-encontro

[9] O ECO: "Mineradoras se voltam para o Rio Grande do Sul com quatro grandes projetos". Published on April 17, 2019.
https://www.oeco.org.br/reportagens/mineradoras-se-voltam-para-o-rio-grande-do-sul-com-quatro-grandes-projetos/

SUL 21: "“Projetos de mineração provocarão colapso social e ambiental na metade sul do RS”. Published February 25, 2018.
https://www.sul21.com.br/areazero/2018/02/projetos-de-mineracao-provocarao-colapso-social-e-ambiental-na-metade-sul-do-rs/

[10] Portal Andes: "Carta de São José do Norte".
http://portal.andes.org.br/imprensa/noticias/imp-ult-1309062430.pdf

[6] Rio Grande Mineração S/A: "Audiências Públicas". Published on February 23, 2015.
rgminer.com.br/page/2/?s=s%C3%A3o+jos%C3%A9

[5] Brasil de Fato: "Plano Diretor de São José do Norte (RS) proíbe mineração no município". Published on June 24, 2019.
https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2019/06/24/plano-diretor-de-sao-jose-do-norte-proibe-mineracao-no-municipio/

[12] Jornal do Comércio: "Projeto de mineração em São José do Norte avança". Published on September 05, 2014.
https://www.jornaldocomercio.com/site/noticia.php?codn=172107

[4] SUL 21: “Projetos de mineração provocarão colapso social e ambiental na metade sul do RS”. Published on February 25, 2018.
https://www.sul21.com.br/areazero/2018/02/projetos-de-mineracao-provocarao-colapso-social-e-ambiental-na-metade-sul-do-rs/

O ECO: "Mineradoras se voltam para o Rio Grande do Sul com quatro grandes projetos". Published on April 17, 2019.
https://www.oeco.org.br/reportagens/mineradoras-se-voltam-para-o-rio-grande-do-sul-com-quatro-grandes-projetos/

Portal Andes: "Carta de São José do Norte".
http://portal.andes.org.br/imprensa/noticias/imp-ult-1309062430.pdf

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande: "Impactos da mineração nos pescadores artesanais são debatidos em encontro". Published December 18, 2019, last modified on January 21, 2019.

Jornal do Comércio: "Projeto de mineração em São José do Norte avança". Published on September 05, 2014.
https://www.jornaldocomercio.com/site/noticia.php?codn=172107

[2] Brasil de Fato: "População de São José do Norte (RS) manifesta insatisfação com projeto de mineração". Published on May 17, 2019.
https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2019/05/17/populacao-de-sao-jose-do-norte-manifesta-insatisfacao-com-projeto-de-mineracao/

[1] SUL 21: "Carta de São José do Norte: projetos de mineração representam um 'projeto de morte'". Published on December 16, 2018
https://www.sul21.com.br/areazero/2018/12/carta-de-sao-jose-do-norte-projetos-de-mineracao-representam-um-projeto-de-morte/

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[13] Assembléia Legislativa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul. Empresa de mineração apresenta empreendimento a ser instalado em São José do Norte
https://al-rs.jusbrasil.com.br/noticias/133410960/empresa-de-mineracao-apresenta-empreendimento-a-ser-instalado-em-sao-jose-do-norte

[13]
https://al-rs.jusbrasil.com.br/noticias/133410960/empresa-de-mineracao-apresenta-empreendimento-a-ser-instalado-em-sao-jose-do-norte

Meta information

Contributor:Marcos Todt, PUCRS, [email protected]
Last update02/02/2020

Images

 

MAM (divulgação)

Taken from https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2019/06/24/plano-diretor-de-sao-jose-do-norte-proibe-mineracao-no-municipio/

Pescadores artesanais de São José do Norte temem que seu modo de vida desapareça com chegada da mineração. (Foto: Marco Weissheimer)

Taken from https://www.sul21.com.br/areazero/2018/12/carta-de-sao-jose-do-norte-projetos-de-mineracao-representam-um-projeto-de-morte/