One of the largest mining companies in the world, with revenues of US$ 12,5 billion in the first half of 2021 alone, Vale accumulates conflicts with Indigenous peoples and traditional communities in the Amazon, and across Brazil. The company
continues to obtain licenses to expand its exploration projects
in the Amazon, especially in Pará, putting further pressure on the peoples and communities affected by its gigantic mining complex.
Projects such as Onça Puma and S11D, for nickel and iron ore exploration, cause numerous impacts on the Xikrin and Kayapó Indigenous peoples, who have been fighting a legal battle that has been dragging for years. One major impact of Vale's activities in the region is the contamination of the Cateté River by excess metals such as lead, mercury, manganese, aluminum and iron—this pollution has been denounced for years by Indigenous people and confirmed by researchers from the Federal University of Pará.
“What we want is for Vale to actually listen to our demands, to offer solutions (...) and to agree to at least try to reduce the environmental impacts of the Onça Puma and the S11D projects,”
Yan Xikrin, young leader from the Council of Leaders in the Xikrin do Cateté Indigenous Land.
In addition to the projects in the Cateté River region, Vale's operations are felt by Indigenous people and traditional communities throughout Brazil. The Pataxó and the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe, affected by the rupture of a dam in Brumadinho, in the state of Minas Gerais, denounce a situation of deep insecurity in their territory, “either due to the lack of minimum elements for the dignity of human life, such as access to water, or due to the procedures adopted by Vale S.A. after the dam rupture.” Also in Pará, the quilombolas in the Oriximiná region who are affected by Mineração Rio do Norte, a Vale subsidiary, have lived for four decades with the
successive loss of water courses contaminated by ore residues and with the vulnerability of the largest complex of tailings dams in the Amazon.
As of November 5, 2021, Vale held 75 active applications in the Amazon on the National Mining Agency (ANM) system that overlap Indigenous lands. In September 2021, the company announced that it would file with the ANM the waiver of all existing applications to mine on Indigenous lands in the Amazon. However, reality proves otherwise. Two new applications were filed in October 2021 to explore areas adjacent to the Xikrin Indigenous Land, in the Cateté River, in Pará, where the Xikrin and Kayapó people live.