Quilombolas in Brazil demand suspension of environmental license to mining activities in their lands

Within the Brazilian Amazon, in the municipality of Oriximiná, mining activity threatens local communities, forests and waterways. On April 11, 2017 Brazil’s largest bauxite mining company, Mineração Rio do Norte, filed an application for Environmental License for the extraction of bauxite in an area overlapping Quilombola Lands in Oriximiná. About 3,000 quilombolas (descendants of slaves who fled slavery in the 19 Century) may be directly impacted.

In reaction, quilombola leaders sent a letter to the Minister of the Environment demanding that environmental licensing be suspended immediately and that remain paralysed until the titling of their lands as guaranteed by the Constitution. The letter also requires National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra) to expedite the completion of the process of regularisation of their territories, which started more than 10 years ago.

Mineração Rio do Norte was established in the 1970s, and now the expansion of its extraction area reaches quilombola lands. In 2013, Brazilian government  granted an environmental permit for the exploration of plateau located in the quilombola area without prior consultation nor any indemnification to the quilombolas for the damages.
While the titling processes of Quilombola Lands evolve slowly, the expansion of mining activities runs its course without major obstacles. Faced with this situation, the quilombolas demand a moratorium: “that no license be granted to Mineração Rio do Norte until the titling of our lands.”