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Mining of building materials and quarry threats indigenous Pitaguary, Brazil

The indigenous group tried to speak with the company’s representatives but received death threats. Hence, the Pitaguary decided to occupy the quarry on November 2011.


The Pitaguary are an indigenous group that inhabits the highlands of the Metropolitan Region of Fortaleza, the capital city of the Ceará State. Their population is of approximately 4400 people. Their economy depends upon communal agricultural practices, breeding of small animals, fruit recollection and fishing. Since 1997, the Pitaguary initiated a process for land demarcation with Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) and, in 2006, the Justice Ministry declared the Pitaguary Indigenous Territory, comprising 1,735 ha. Since the declaration, the Pitaguary have exerted control over the newly created territory. However, it hasn’t yet been recognized by the Presidency of the Republic. This lack of recognition and its proximity to the urban area of Fortaleza make the Pitaguary susceptible to constant pressure by real estate speculators, among other threats. In 2011, Britaboa Ltda., a local mining company, asked for the renewal of their license to exploit crushed stone in a concession contiguous to the Pitaguary demarcated territory. The mine had been inactive for more than 15 years.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Mining of building materials and quarry threats indigenous Pitaguary, Brazil
State or province:Ceará
Location of conflict: Maracanaú and Pacatuba
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Land acquisition conflicts
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific commodities: crushed stone
Sand, gravel
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

Project area:1,735
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:4,400
Start of the conflict:09/2011
Company names or state enterprises: Britaboa Ltda from Brazil
Relevant government actors:Fundação Nacional do Índio (Funai);Superintendência Estadual do Meio Ambiente do Ceará (Semace); Conselho Nacional do Meio Ambiente do Ceará (CONAMA);Ceará’s State Superintendence for Environment (SEMACE); Brazil’s National Institute for Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA);
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais sem Terra (MST). (Landless Worker’s Movement); other indigenous groups from Ceará: Tapeba, Tabajara, Jenipapo-Kanindé and Tupinambá, Students.
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Land demarcation
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination
Other Health impactsrespiratory diseases related with dust and air pollution due to the extraction of building materials. Specific impacts on children.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Application of international regulation (ILO 169)
Development of alternatives:Continue with their livelihoods: communal agricultural practices, breeding of small animals, fruit recollection and fishing.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:In early 2013, the courts decided in favour of the company. However after the intensification of the Pitaguary, the regional coordinator of FUNAI informed the present that the SEMACE had decided to wait for FUNAI’s approval before renovating Britaboa’s license. No more information about the status of the project has been found.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

International Labour Organization’s (ILO) convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples.

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

Reabertura de uma pedreira ameaça território dos índios Pitaguary no Ceará
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Mapa Fiocruz "Pedreira da Empresa Britaboa ameaça índios Pitaguary em Fortaleza"
[click to view]

Pitaguarys protestam contra reativação de pedreira
[click to view]

Ocupação Pitaguary: SEMACE suspende processo de emissão de licença à mineradora
[click to view]

Índios reivindicam direito de terra em Pacatuba
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[click to view]

Other documents

Indigenous Pitaguary
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:ENVJustice Project
Last update05/10/2017
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