MAC: Mines and Communities

Brazil - Quilombolas demand land titling to defend against mining

Published by MAC on 2016-04-30
Source: Comissão Pró-Índio de São Paulo

The Quilombola, descendants of African slaves, have been protesting for the promised titling of their lands by the Brazilian government.

The need is all the greater because of the threat of bauxite mining on their lands. The company targeted in this instance, Mineração Rio do Norte, has shareholders who include the BHP Billiton spin-off South32, Rio Tinto, Alcoa and Hydro.

For a previous statement see: Manifesto in solidarity with African descent communities in Brazil threatened by mining

Previous article on MAC: Descendants of slaves still suffer in Brazil

Quilombolas take to the streets to claim the titling of their lands threatened by mining

Street Protest in defence of Quilombolas’ Territories in Oriximiná

Comissão Pró-Índio de São Paulo

27 April 2016

Amazon – Brazil - Around 160 Quilombola men and women travelled two days from their communities in Oriximiná (within the Amazon Rainforest) to the city of Santarém to protest against the delay in titling of their lands, a right provided for in the Brazilian Constitution.

In the protest, held on April 27, the Quilombolas reported that the titling proceedings started over 10 years ago are paralysed. This situation makes this population more vulnerable to the advancement of the mining company Mineração Rio do Norte on their lands. The company, which has among its shareholders the South32/Billiton, Rio Tinto, Alcoa and Hydro, is the largest producer of bauxite in Brazil.

“To authorise miners and loggers, the government have a pen, but to title Quilombola land, they have no pen. We want our land titled, I’m here together with the all the Quilombolas to say ‘Land Rights Now!’”, Aluízio Silverio dos Santos, quilombola leadership.

About 10,000 Quilombolas, descendants of black people who fled slavery in the 19th century, live in Oriximiná, a region within the Brazilian Amazon, building a new life in the forest. The rights of Quilombolas to ownership of their lands was recognised in 1988 in the Brazilian Constitution and is provided by Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Despite the constitutional law, the Quilombolas find it difficult to obtain ownership of their lands and protect their forests. In the street protest on April 27, the Quilombolas demanded from the Brazilian government the conclusion of the titling proceedings of the Quilombola Lands of Alto Trombetas and Alto Trombetas 2 that started over 10 years ago.

Even with the court decision of 2015 - that determined the period of two years for the titling of the Quilombola Lands in Oriximiná - the ICMBio, an agency of the Ministry of the Environment, does not allow the proceedings to continue due to the overlap of the Quilombo lands with protected areas.

However, in stark contrast, the ICMBio authorised the logging and extraction of bauxite in the very same area (Saracá-Taquera National Forest), threatening the Quilombolas and riverine families who live there.

“If today we have forests that are preserved, it’s thanks to the quilombolas and the indigenous peoples. We want a piece of land to live in, not to destroy like the large mining companies do. It took me two days to get here. We are after our right that is in the constitution”, Manoel Santos de Jesus, quilombola leadership.

The whole area of ​​exploitation of MRN - the largest producer of bauxite in Brazil - is inside the Saracá-Taquera National Forest, a conservation unit.

MRN has as shareholders Vale, Rio Tinto, South32 (company resulting from a spin-off of assets from Anglo-Australian BHP Billiton in 2015), Alcan, Hydro, Alcoa and Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio, and it was implemented in Oriximiná in 1970s.

Since 2012, MRN’s expansion has reached areas overlapping the Quilombolas’ territories located in the Saracá-Taquera National Forest. Estimates indicate that MRN’s mining concessions cover 8% of the size of the Quilombolas’ territory and 27% of the Saracá-Taquera National Forest. The extraction of bauxite involves the total forest clearing and excavations that are more than eight meters deep to reach the area of ​​the ore.

In 2013, MRN obtained from the Ministry of Environment a permit to explore the Plateau Monte Branco, partially located in Quilombola lands. In March 2016, the Ministry of the Environment authorised MRN to undertake studies that will enable the environmental license for bauxite mining in other four plateaus within Quilombola lands from 2021.

Support by promoting the Quilombolas’ claims:
In a letter delivered to the government in the Street Protest, the Quilombolas of Oriximiná claim:
The immediate publication of the Identification Reports of the Territories of Alto Trombetas which have been ready since 2013.
That the government comply with the deadline determined by the Federal Court for completion of the titling (February 2017).
That no licences for companies to exploit their lands is issued until the titling is completed.

You can support the Quilombolas of Oriximiná by publicising their claims. Contributing to make the Quilombolas’ cause well-known is even more important at this moment when Brazil is going through a serious political crisis that may lead to the regression in the recognition of Quilombolas’ and indigenous peoples’ rights.

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Associação Mãe Domingas (Mãe Domingas Quilombola Association), Associação das Comunidades Remanescentes de Quilombos do Município de Oriximiná (the Association of Remaining Quilombo Communities of the Municipality of Oriximiná) and Cooperativa do Quilombo (Quilombo Cooperative).
Comissão Pastoral da Terra-Oriximiná (Pastoral Land Commission), Comissão Pró-Índio de São Paulo (Pro-Indian Commission of São Paulo) and Kaxuyana, Tunayana and Kahyana Indigenous Association.

Contact: imprensa[at]


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