In early April, entrepreneurs in the mining sector received a business proposal from Vale. In confidential terms, the commercial offer detailed the sale of its mining rights to explore eight gigantic areas of manganese in the Marabá region of Pará. In the letter sent by e-mail, the company narrates the exploration potential of more than 12 thousand hectares with an abundance of ore that is used for steel production. But it makes it clear: the buyer will have to assume any and all environmental liabilities in the area, whether these damages are “existing and future, known or not”.
Vale defended the “promising mineralization” of what it called the “Buriti Project”, but tried to include in its explanations that “the area was invaded by third parties”. Images of these areas, obtained via satellite, show that, although the mining company has never explored them, maintaining only the exclusivity of this right, the illegal extraction of manganese is high. These activities are supported by heavy machinery and hundreds of trucks, which remove thousands of tons of ore, in broad daylight, without any embarrassment.
Owner of these exploration rights for over 20 years, Vale saw the project turn, in practice, into a huge financial liability. Now, it has decided to sell these assets, which can generate an environmental bill that is difficult to calculate.
According to the Estadão, the company confirms that the area was invaded and that “it has been the object of clandestine mining since 2014”. Regarding criminal actions, the company says that “over the last few years, it became aware of the existence of illegal mining in the company’s mining rights area”. And he informed that he has been making complaints to the National Mining Agency (ANM) and the Federal Police for eight years, but without succeeding in the eviction. As she is not the owner of the land, but only the owner of the right of extraction, she said that she “does not even have access to the site or the legitimacy to remove any invaders”.
Asked what measures it took, the ANM stated that it “has been working to combat illegal mining in the areas of Vila União and Sereno”, either through “inspection operations in mines, or in the commercialization of manganese ore, in ports and neighboring areas”. .
Report published by Estadão in April showed that manganese exports have been marked over the years by fraudulent schemes set up to circumvent regulatory bodies.
Company discourages visitors because of violence
The violence and threats surrounding manganese extraction in the Marabá region, in Pará, have led mining company Vale to declare to those interested in acquiring mining rights that, if they want to visit the eight areas on offer, they are welcome, but to do it on their own.
It is common, in commercial mining proposals, for the owner to organize technical visits with potential buyers – so that they can meet in person the region they can acquire and attest to what is demonstrated in documents. That was not what happened in this offer, according to a letter to which the reporter had access.
“Due to the clandestine mining activities being carried out by third parties in the Buriti Project area, Vale will not sponsor site visits,” said the mining company in the document. He added: “Companies interested in submitting an offer must do so, at their own risk, based on the data contained in the VDR (digital database) and on information obtained directly from Vale representatives.”
Several actions against organized crime have already taken place in the region, but the invaders always return, armed with heavy equipment. Manganese mining carried out in the region is characterized by being in the open, because it is an ore found on the surface. The pits opened by explorers are large because the business is only justified if carried out on a large scale.
Another condition imposed by Vale is that the buyer makes, as a priority, “payments in cash and in cash”. The company does not detail values and says it will be based on the best proposal it receives. The sale also depends on an endorsement by the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES).