The book “Antes a Água era Cristalina, Pura e Sadia – Percepções quilombolas e ribeirinhas dos impactos e riscos da mineração em Oriximiná, Pará” [Before, the water was crystal clear, pure and healthy. Perceptions of the Quilombola and riverine communities on the impacts and risks of mining in Oriximiná, Pará] discusses the consequences of bauxite extraction from the point of view of the impacted population. The study gathers testimonies selected from 47 interviews carried out with residents of Quilombo Boa Vista, and the Boa Nova and Saracá riverine communities who report impacts on watercourses and reveal a feeling of insecurity about the risks of tailings dams that the company has built in the region.
The mining takes place in the middle of the Amazon, inside a federal conservation unit (Saracá-Taquera National Forest), where quilombola and riverine communities live. The company Mineração Rio do Norte has as shareholders the giants Vale, Hydro, South32, Rio Tinto, Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio, Alcoa Alumínio S.A., Alcoa World Alumina and Alcoa Awa Brasil Participações. Bauxite, the raw material used in the production of aluminum, is sold in the national and international market (Asia, Europe and North America).
“The water we have is not good quality water”
The quilombolas of Boa Vista and the ribeirinhos [riparians] of Boa Nova and Saracá point out the main consequences of changes in watercourses: the restriction of access to drinking water, the emergence of new diseases (affecting mainly children and women) and the reduction of fish stock.
“Before, the water was crystal clear, pure and healthy. Today I’m afraid, it’s polluted.” claims Maria Zuleide Viana dos Santos, from Quilombo Boa Vista.
Jones da Luz from Boa Nova community, in his testimony to the study, also points out the concern with diseases: “We see that most families complain a lot of diarrhoea, from polluted water.” And regarding the reduction of fish, Jones says that “the fish we used to get, is not here anymore, ‘it’ thinks it is not good to be here, because the water is very polluted.”
Quilombolas and riparians are skeptical about the information from Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN) that the water quality of the streams remains adequate.
“Water researchers always come, every month they come to do this research, but nothing is ever detected. I do not believe that the water in this condition has nothing,” claims Maria de Fátima Viana Lopes, from Boa Nova community.