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Article

23 Jun 2022

Author:
Observatório da Mineração,
Author:
Mongabay

Brazil: Residents living near railroad built and operated by Vale report health problems, damage to their houses, pollution, accidents and lack of dialogue; incl. company comments

Wikimedia Commons

"For Brazil communities along a mining railway, impacts outweigh any benefits", 23 June 2022

...Much of the iron ore that accounts for this profit is extracted from the S11D mine in neighboring Pará state and transported on the Carajás Railroad. Vale touts the line as the “most efficient railroad” in Brazil.

Residents of the towns through which its double tracks cut, however, tell a very different story.

The communities’ main complaints include lack of viable ways to cross the tracks, such as overpasses and footbridges, leading to instances of people and animals being run over and seriously injured or even killed by the trains. They also point to structural damage to their homes, which are cracked by the constant train traffic, and the noise, water and air pollution. Another complaint is the persecution of community leaders and the lack of dialogue between Vale and the affected communities...

At least 130 communities and villages lie in the path of the Carajás Railroad...

Treated without transparency and ignored by companies such as Vale and the authorities, residents are left only with the adverse impacts and no benefits...

In municipalities crossed by Vale’s railroad in Maranhão, mining money has ensnared several politicians and businesspeople in criminal schemes...

The community’s residents resorted to blocking the railroad so that the company would listen to them and meet their demands...

The case of the community of Piquiá de Baixo is symbolic of how the mining and steel industries treat the communities impacted by their projects. This is a view echoed by the United Nations Human Rights Council...The visit resulted in a report in which the U.N. called for mitigating measures...

Vale’s response

In response to Observatório da Mineração’s questions, Vale sent a statement about its actions on each of the points raised and the local residents’ reports.

“...Vale informs that it constantly invests in technology and actions to reinforce safe coexistence with its railroads...” it said.

Regarding what Vale calls “alleged environmental impacts associated with the Carajás Railroad operation,” such as cracks in houses and pollution, the company said it “strictly complies with environmental legislation and reiterates that it systematically assesses the environmental variables associated with its operations, keeping specific programs validated by regulatory environmental agencies.”

...Vale said it maintains relationship channels available to the community via website and telephone...[,]...exercising active listening as well as open and transparent dialogue...

Vale said that “all projects are previously evaluated, considering internal integrity/compliance criteria and their alignment with Vale’s social action lines...

Multimodal Intermunicipal Consortium’s (CIM) response

The consortium of municipalities refuted any allegations of corruption, detailing its relationship with Vale and describing the benefits it provides to communities in a statement to Observatório da Mineração...

No response from government institutions

The National Mining Agency (ANM), the Maranhão state government, the Public Prosecution Service and the Maranhão State Court of Accounts did not answer questions from Observatório da Mineração regarding the issues raised in this reporting.

The municipal governments of Açailândia, Alto Alegre do Pindaré, Buriticupu and Itapecuru-Mirim also did not respond to questions...