Vale wants to sell invaded areas in Pará and escape environmental problems with illegal extraction

At the beginning of April, entrepreneurs in the mining sector received a business proposal from OK. In classified terms, the commercial offer detailed the sale of its mining rights to explore eight gigantic areas of manganese in the region of Marabá, in Pará. In the letter sent by email to potential buyers, Vale narrated the exploration potential of more than 12 thousand hectares with an abundance of ore that is used for steel production. But he made the following clear: the buyer will have to assume any and all environmental liabilities in the area, whether these damages are “existing and future, known or not”.

Vale defended the “promising mineralizations” of what it called “Buriti Project”, but tried to include in his explanations that “the area was invaded by third parties”.

Through the mining processes, the report mapped exactly the eight areas that Vale wants to sell.

Images of these areas, obtained via satellite, show that, despite the fact that Vale has never explored them, maintaining only the exclusivity of this right, the illegal removal of manganese is intense. These are large-scale industrial activities that, supported by heavy machinery and hundreds of trucks, remove thousands of tons of ore every day from the region, in broad daylight, without any kind of embarrassment.

Owner of these exploration rights for over 20 years, Vale saw its “Buriti Project” turn, in practice, into a huge financial liability. Now, it has decided to sell these assets, which can generate an environmental bill that is difficult to calculate.

According to the Estadão, Vale asked potential interested parties to present their purchase proposals by this week. In the material to which the report had access, the mining company itself confirms that the area was invaded and that “it has been the object of clandestine mining since 2014”.

In relation to criminal actions, the company claims that “over the last few years, it became aware of the existence of illegal mining in the area of ​​the company’s mining rights”. He also informed that he has lodged complaints with the National Mining Agency (ANM) and the Federal police eight years ago, but which, to date, has not “succeeded in evicting the area” and has not managed to “definitely stop the illegal mining activities on the site by the invaders”.

As it does not own the land, but rather has the right to extract the ore, Vale claimed that it “does not even have access to the site or the legitimacy to remove any invaders”. For this reason, she informed that she “promoted complaints with the competent bodies, providing them with the information she had in order to contribute to the investigation and closure of clandestine activities”.

The ANM confirmed that the areas, despite the criminal and industrial activities that dominate the region, are not yet places for the legal exploitation of manganese, because they are still in the mining concession application phase, that is, these areas do not have the right to be explored, because they depend on several steps, such as the approval of an economic use plan, an environmental license and the granting of the mining concession, which is granted by the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

Asked what measures it took regarding the invasions, the ANM declared that it “has been working to combat illegal mining in the areas of Vila União and Sereno”, either through “inspection operations in the mines, or in the commercialization of manganese ore, in the ports and neighboring areas”.

According to the agency, these operations were concentrated in 2020 and 2021, involving the Armed forcesFederal Police and the Federal Public Ministry.

The Attorney of the Republic Igor Limawhich operates in Marabá, declared that “the MPF continues to coordinate police operations with public security agencies to curb illegal mining, as well as offering legal actions and complaints regarding crimes of mineral usurpation”.

Fraudulent schemes

Report published by Estadão in April showed that the export of manganese, an input that feeds world steel production and the entire steel industry, has been marked by fraudulent schemes set up to circumvent regulatory bodies.

With the use of cold invoices, companies omit the real places from which they extract thousands of tons of ore, promoting looting in forest conservation units, indigenous lands and even areas of private concessions. Behind, they leave a trail of environmental destruction and billionaire losses.

Municipalities such as Parauapebas, Curionópolis and Marabá, in the Southeast region of the state, are the epicenter of this clandestine market, in a marked by illegal deforestation, mining and land grabbing. The plan consists of systematically using extraction documents issued in other States, where there are not even mines with exploration activities, to camouflage the true origin of the extracted material.

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