Ferrovia de Integracão Oeste-Leste (FIOL), Brazil

A railroad of 1.527km long distance aiming to facilitate de transport of iron ore is threatening local communities along the path. Chinese financing is likely.


VALEC is a state enterprise connected to the Ministry of Transports in Brazil. They're building the Ferrovia de Integracão Oeste-Leste (FIOL). The railway is approximately 1500km long, connecting the States of Bahia and Tocantins. The construction process has started in 2011 and the final project's delivery estimated time was 2014. The idea is to drain iron ore production for export  through Ilhéus port. Due to the complexity associated with the logistic complex and a combination of several environmental licence processes to make to project happen (private and public ports, mine, and railway), it has been facing challenges to ramp up into operation.

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Basic Data
NameFerrovia de Integracão Oeste-Leste (FIOL), Brazil
ProvinceBahia, Goiás and Tocantins
SiteBom Jesus da Lapa
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Mineral ore exploration
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesWater
Iron ore
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsBahia Oeste Railway starts from Figueirópolis (Tocantins state) to Ihéus (Bahia state) encompassing circa of 1500km. The influence area covers 12 municipalities in Tocantins, 34 in Bahia and 1 in Goiás.

The main objectives with the railway are, among others: to establish more economic alternatives to long distance loading transportation; favour multimodal options; and to connect the brazilian railway roads.

There is an estimation of generating 650 direct jobs per each 100km of building infrastructure and 1950 indirect jobs.

The main benefits, among others, would be to reduce transportation costs of grains, alcohol and minerals; increase the agroindustry production in the region; reduce the polluents emission; reduce the accidents rate on the highway roads.

In late 2016 it was reported that the Chinese government proposed to Brazil creating a binational state-owned company that would build the 1,527 km West-East Integration Railroad (Fiol), in a model that could be replicated in other Chinese investments in Brazilian rail transport. According to Transportation Minister Maurício Quintella Lessa, the Michel Temer government will study the proposal. Valec, a state-owned company, holds the Fiol concession and has already invested 4 billion reais (1.1 billion euros) in the project. (Source: https://www.railwaypro.com/wp/brazil-china-proposes-binational-company-for-rail-project/).
Project Area (in hectares)1.527 km (railway)
Level of Investment (in USD)2,022,808,206
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population1,6 million inhabitants (influence area)
Start Date2015
Company Names or State EnterprisesVALEC Engenharia, Construcoes e Ferrovias S.A. (VALEC) from Brazil - VALEC is the company responsible for the railway construction
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Transports

Public Prosecutor's Office (Ministério Público Federal ); Conselho de Infraestrutura da Federação das Indústrias da Bahia (Fieb);
International and Financial InstitutionsBanco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) from Brazil
Agencia Nacional de Transportes Terrestres (ANTT) (ANTT) from Brazil - Investor
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersMovimento Pela Soberania Popular na Mineração (MAM) http://mamnacional.org.br/

Comissão Pastoral da Terra


Sindicato dos Trabalhadores Rurais
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Trade unions
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Referendum other local consultations
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession, Loss of livelihood
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The project was temporarily suspended but the reasons were not connected to the environmental justice struggle in the region. In 2017, president Temer started negotiations with Chinese investors to continue FIOL's project.
Sources and Materials

Estudos de Viabilidade (EVTEA)
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News article about the construction stoppage and its consequences to mineral extraction in the region.
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Project status
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Communities impacted by BAMIN and FIOL projects are mobilizing and sharing experiencesin event
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IBAMA interrupts FIOL's installation licence
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The first 100 families receive indemnification from VALEC
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FIOL's railway's construction sites stop and causes delay since 2015
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Public prosecutor meets with quilombola communties in Bom Jesus da Lapa, Bahia
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Mr. Temer seeks Chinese investors to continue FIOL's project
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Prioridade no PAC, ferrovia de R$ 4,2 bi liga mineradora em crise a porto sem data para operar
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Media Links

Public consultation in Brejinho das Ametistas (Bahia) about the railway construction and mining impacts in the region
[click to view]

Other Documents

Preliminar Environmental Impact Assessment Report This document is a preliminary environmental report made in 2008 by VALEC.
[click to view]

Report on Economic Assessment The report is a preliminary economic assessment study made by VALEC in 2008.
[click to view]

VALEC executive board meeting report The meeting aimed to discuss and decide on displacement processes in the communities around the railway construction in 2016.
[click to view]

FERROVIA DE INTEGRAÇÃO OESTE-LESTE: INTEGRAÇÃO SULAMERICANA, PADRÃO DE REPRODUÇÃO DO CAPITAL E CONFLITOS SOCIOAMBIENTAIS The paper analyses FIOL project arguing it estimulates the consolidation of a capital reproduction pattern associated with commodities exports. This pattern tends to generate new tensions and conflicts, especially regarding rural issues.
[click to view]

VALEC expropriation regulation The document is from 2016 and is an updated version of the previous one, dated from 2010.
[click to view]

MAM activists conduct public consultation on FIOL's project in Brejinho das Ametistas
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Michel Temer and Xi Jinping. Cooperation agreements between CHINA and BRAZIL to continue FIOL's project.
[click to view]

Meta Information
Contributor Mariana Galvão (University of Eastern Finland) and Grettel Navas (ENVJustice Project)
Last update29/05/2018