VALEC is a state enterprise connected to the Ministry of Transports in Brazil. They're building the Ferrovia de Integracão Oeste-Leste (FIOL). The railway is approximately 1500km long, connecting the States of Bahia and Tocantins. The construction process has started in 2011 and the final project's delivery estimated time was 2014. The idea is to drain iron ore production for export through Ilhéus port. Due to the complexity associated with the logistic complex and a combination of several environmental licence processes to make to project happen (private and public ports, mine, and railway), it has been facing challenges to ramp up into operation.
It is relevant to state that this project is connected to another one, Pedra de Ferro Mine, managed by BAMIN and also generating several conflicts with the nearby communities.
One of the social impacts of the project is the expropriation of families. In July 2011, the first 100 families received indemnifications to leave their homes so the project could advance with construction in these areas.
On top of that, Brazilian environmental agency (IBAMA) has interrupted later on that year the project's installation licence due to corruption investigation processes.
The railway project is composed of three stretches: (1) From Ilhéus (BA) to Caetité (BA), encompassing 537km; (2) from Caetité (BA) to Barreiras (BA), encompassing 485km; and (3) from Barreiras (BA) to Figueirópolis (TO), encompassing 505km, approximately. Each stretch has several different consortia in charge and the implementation rates are different along the railway project.
Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) indicated conflicts due to this project are mostly connected to land (12 conflicts registered) and water (18 conflicts registered) issues. They are happening along the railway construction, encompassing different villages and municipalities and involving traditional communities (indigenous peoples and afrodescendants communities named "quilombolas"), workers and nearby residents. The main impacts are connected to housing damages due the railway construction, the way the resettlement of communities was done, and changes in the river courses.
In 2015 CPT coordinated an event aimed at information and experience exchange among the impacted communities. The objective was to improve the awareness among the affected people about the project issues in a systemic way, so they could be able to perform mobilization and network building processes and then confront the project with greater positive outcomes possibilities.
In the same year, some of the railways stretch construction sites were stopped, and in Caetité (BA) the stoppage lasted more than two years. Other stretches are also facing delays.
In 2016 VALEC reviewed their expropriation rules and the updated version is now on course in place of the previous one (dated from 2010).
In March 2017 the public prosecutor officer in charge visited quilombola communities in Bom Jesus da Lapa (BA). During the meeting water issues, conflicts with FIOL's project, and mobility issues in roads nearby the construction sites were reported by community leaders.
In June 2017 VALEC was cited in investigating cases of corruption in Brazil. Later on, in Agust, president Temer started negotiations with Chinese investors to continue FIOL's project.
In the same year, the nearby communities in Brejinho das Ametistas (BA) together with MAM, CPT and the rural union have done a popular consultation with more than 100 people to discuss the impacts caused by VALEC and positioned themselves against the project.