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 . 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” .
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 .
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 
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 .
In December 2018, the MPF filed two public civil actions against Ibama and the company RGM . 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 .
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 .
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 ” .