No to a parallel train line
Judge orders Vale mining company to suspend construction on a railway that threatens indigenous population and ecosystem.
Brazil´s largest mining firm, Vale, must halt plans to build a parallel railway alongside an existing one in the northeast state of Pará, which would have allowed for increased transportation of iron from the Carajás mine to a port in the state of Maranhão.
In early August, Judge Ricardo Felipe Rodrigues Macieira ordered Vale to suspend the project because of a perceived threat to the indigenous and Afro-Brazilian communities that live around the railways. The magistrate also ordered the execution of an environmental impact study that is clearly written so as to be understood by the affected communities and the public, and that includes all possible compensation packages.
The current railway is 892 km (554 miles) long. Vale intends to construct a line alongside it so trains can travel in both directions simultaneously, allowing the company to increase the volume of iron transported from 130 million metric tons currently to 230 million metric tons.
According to Survival International, an organization that defends the rights of indigenous populations, Vale doesn´t have the social license to build the railway, which will cost US$4.1 billion and would be completed by 2016.
“We don’t accept the expansion of the train line which passes right in front of our territory,” said an indigenous Awa to Survival International. “It´s really bad! It makes a lot of noise! The hunters can’t find any game; the animals are scared off.”
Although Vale has said the project rigorously respects Brazil’s environmental regulations, Judge Macieira noted that the consultations with the affected communities have been “insufficient” and warned of the risk of provoking “extremely serious environmental degradation.” Vale announced it will appeal the order.
The company´s plans poses an even greater risk to the Awa population, which Survival International considers as the most threatened tribe in the world. The construction of the Carajás mine in the early 1980s devastated the Awa population by opening up its territories to illegal loggers and settlers.
“The railway isn’t the only threat to the tribe’s survival,” said Survival International´s Director Stephen Corry. “Loggers, ranchers and settlers are still brazenly flouting Brazilian law. Despite assurances from Brazil’s authorities, the Awa’s way of life still hangs in the balance.” —Latinamerica Press.