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Iron ore mining project Pedra de Ferro in Caetité, BA, Brazil

BAMIN, controlled by ERG, gets into conflicts over water. The first major iron ore project in Bahia, a new mining frontier in Brazil, threatens the way of life of small farmers and traditional communities.


Since 2006, the company Bahia Mineração (BAMIN) is developing a large iron ore mining project in Caetité in the south of Bahia, one of the new mining frontiers in Brazil. BAMIN was formed by the Indian company Zamin Ferrous specially for exploiting iron ore in Bahia. Between 2008 and 2010, all its shares were acquired by the Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) from Kazakhstan, which was later transformed in the Eurasian Resources Group (ERG), holding company based in Luxembourg. The project, named Pedra de Ferro (iron stone), was designed to have its iron ore transported by the Brazilian West-East Integration Railroad (FIOL), which is being built by the Federal Government, and by the South Port (Ilhéus, Bahia), which is being built by the Bahia Government in partnership with BAMIN itself – both large enterprises responsible for various conflicts in southern Bahia.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Iron ore mining project Pedra de Ferro in Caetité, BA, Brazil
State or province:Bahia
Location of conflict:Caetité and Pindaí
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Specific commodities:Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Pedra de Ferro Project was designed to produce 20 million tons of iron ore per year. The Pedra de Ferro project installation really encompasses a 700km area from the Sao Francisco river course to the port in Ilheus, Bahia. The central conflict is connected to potential water impacts due to the mineral extraction along with the project to build a tailings dam inside a permanent conservation area. The forecast is that during the operation stage the project will employ 1800 people directly, and up to 4500 people in the implementation stage.

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Project area:3,926
Level of Investment:3,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:10,000
Start of the conflict:28/07/2009
Company names or state enterprises:Eurasian Resources Group (ERG) from Kazakhstan
Bahia Mineração (BAMIN) from Brazil - BAMIN started and developed the Pedra de Ferro Project
Zamin Ferrous from India
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Transport
Federal Government
VALEC/Ministry of Transports
Bahia State Goverment
Terceira Câmara Cível do TJ/BA
Instituto do Meio Ambiente e Recursos Hídricos (INEMA).
Prosecutor Office in Bahia (Ministerio Publico da Bahia)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:MAM – Movimento pela Soberania Popular na Mineração (
CPT - Comissão Pastoral da Terra (
Associação de Advogados de Trabalhadores Rurais
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Trade unions
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Air pollution, Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:The main proposals discussed at the Popular Assembly of Mining for water and life protection (June 3, 2017) are: immediate suspension of the tailings dam license; recognition of public lands; the fulfillment of the conditions established in the licensing process for the relocated families, respect for the environment, land and water. The Assembly was organized by Movimento pela Soberania Popular na Mineração ( MAM), Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) and the Rural Workers' Unions of Pindaí.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:In response to the mobilizations of the communities around the project, the Bahia Public Prosecutor's Office, in October 2017, recommended that the Bamin tailings dam should not be implanted in the Permanent Preservation Area (APP) Pedra de Ferro River, located in Caetité and Pindaí (BA). However, the completion of the project seems inevitable and the final outcome of the conflict, even in relation to tailings dam, is still uncertain. The conflict is characterized by several judicial disputes, especially land disputes with traditional communities and local farmers. While BAMIN is advancing on getting licences, there is a lot of resistance over these decisions, some with the support of the local public prosecutor office.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

The Justice Department in Bahia suspends judicial injunction against Joao Barroca community
[click to view]

The State Prosecutor Office recommended BAMIN not to construct a tailings dam in Pedra de Ferro permanent conservation area
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Academic paper on land dispute in the region. PARECER DA NASCENTE DO RIACHO PEDRA DE FERRO NOS MUNICÍPIOS DE CAETITÉ E PINDAÍ-BAHI. Simposio Baiano de Geografia Agraria, 3-5 Julho 2017
[click to view]


PINDAÍ- BAHIA, BRASIL. Fernanda Oliveira Rodrigues / [email protected]/ Wesley Borges Costa/ [email protected] Revista Pegada,17 (1) Julho 2016.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Popular victory: prosecutor recommends that Bamin not implant tailings dam in Permanent Preservation Area (MAM, 2017a)
[click to view]

Letter - Popular Assembly of Mining, organized in Pindaí (Bahia), June 3, 2017
[click to view]

Map of Environmental Justice and Health in Brazil (Fiocruz/Brazil). Description of the conflict in Caetité related to Bamin's iron ore Project.
[click to view]

Letter - Territorial and Environment Committe, December 20, 2009. Letter rejecting the iron ore project in Caetité.
[click to view]

Letter - Atingidos pela Bamin-Fiol-Porto Sul (Ilhéus, Bahia, October 28, 2011)
[click to view]

Letter - Comissão Pastoral da Terra describing hearings in southwestern Bahia (July 2009)
[click to view]

Database of the Mineral Technology Center (Ministry of Science Technology and Education, Brazil) that presents case studies on socio-environmental effects of mining in Brazil.
[click to view]

Occupation at the headquarters of Inema is a result of the political organization of communities (MAM, 2017b)
[click to view]

CPT Bahia helps communities impacted by mining project to create georeferenced maps with the delimitation of areas of common use (Comissão Pastoral da Terra, 2014)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Pedra de ferro project -BAMIN
[click to view]

Video about communities that depend on rivers whose springs may be compromised by the Bamin Project.
[click to view]

BAMIN: tire as mãos da nossa água!
[click to view]

A brief timeline on Pedra de Ferro project
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Beatriz Macchione Saes, Usp, [email protected] / M. Galvao Lyra
Last update27/04/2018
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