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Victory for small Amazon community

Victory for small Amazon community

Sue Branford
Author: Sue Branford
Published on: Fri Jan 2, 2015

Federal judge suspends activities of a Canadian-owned mining company near the small community of São José, after LAB team of journalists exposes the harm the company is causing.

Just before Christmas, a federal judge ordered the gold mining company Ouro Roxo, which is controlled by Canadian capital, to suspend its activities in the Federal Conservation Area (APA) of Tapajós in the hamlet of São José in the rural district of Jacareacanga in the southeast of Pará in the Brazilian Amazon

The federal judge, Rafael Leite Paulo, took this decision, after unearthing a series of irregularities committed by the company. These included harming the life of the local community, failing to respect Torn plastic container used to mix cyanide with mining residuethe right of the local traditional miners to carry out their small-scale, artisanal mining, and using 'unsuitable' ways of extracting gold. Among the criticised practices was the use of cyanide without due precautions (see picture).

The judicial decision is a remarkable victory for the garimpeiros (miners) of  São José, who for many years now have been involved in a hugely unequal struggle against the foreign company, which succeeded in getting their artisanal mining activities banned.  

Just over a year ago a small team of LAB journalists visited Ouro Preto and wrote an article on the company’s treatment of the local community. Few journalists had ever visited this remote region and their articles, which were translated into Portuguese, were used by Brazil’s Public Ministry (MP-PA), in the case they brought against the company. It was the judge’s ruling in this case which has led to the suspension of the company’s activities.

  1. g de franca:
    Jan 05, 2015 at 06:19 PM

    A few years ago, I've wrote to the Ministry of Environment Canada regarding my concerns with a few Canadian mining companies setting their sights to the Amazon jungle, here is the response I've got:

    In response to your email in which you share your concerns about Forbes and Manhattan's operations in Brazil ( Add to contacts 22/03/2013 Keep this message at the top of your inbox
    Ms. Gleyse de Franca


    Dear Ms. de Franca:

    The office of the Honourable Peter Kent has forwarded to me your email of January 12, 2013, in which you share your concerns about Forbes and Manhattan’s operations in Brazil.

    Canadian mining companies are active around the world and overwhelmingly operate in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. Through this approach, they demonstrate a commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and contribute to job creation and prosperity around the world. They are recognized leaders in responsible business practices.

    As you may be aware, these companies also face significant social and environmental challenges. In order to help address these challenges, the Government of Canada is committed to supporting the CSR practices of Canadian extractive sector companies in their operations abroad. This commitment is embodied in the Government of Canada’s CSR Strategy for the Canadian International Extractive Sector, Building the Canadian Advantage (the CSR Strategy). To learn more about this strategy, I invite you to visit the following website:

    Under the aegis of its CSR Strategy, the Government of Canada encourages and expects all Canadian companies working around the world to respect all applicable laws and international standards, to operate transparently and in consultation with host governments and local communities, and to conduct their activities in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. Given your specific reference to the environment, it may interest you to know that the OECD’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, which are among the four international standards and guidelines specifically mentioned in Canada’s CSR Strategy, include provisions that offer guidance to companies with respect to environmental issues.

    Canada recognizes, however, that there is a limit to what companies can provide to support the social, health and environmental concerns of the communities within which they operate. Host governments also have a role in that they are responsible for legislation and programs to meet the needs of their citizens. That is why the Government of Canada, through the Canadian International Development Agency, Natural Resources Canada, and Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, also works with host governments to enhance their capacity to manage their own natural resources for economic, social and environmental sustainability. For example, Canada is establishing the Canadian International Institute for Extractive Industries and Development (CIIEID), which will be operated by the University of British Columbia, in a coalition with Simon Fraser University. The CIIEID, which is aligned with the CSR Strategy, will undertake policy research to identify best practices in extractive sector management and arrange technical assistance for governments in developing countries. These efforts will improve the prospects of developing countries to benefit from their own natural resource endowments and prosper economically.

    Canada’s approach to CSR is based on engagement and proactive measures to enhance Canadian companies’ ability to manage social and environmental risks in the international extractive sector. The Government of Canada believes that working together with companies and host country governments, to improve the beneficial impacts of Canadian extractive sector activities around the world, is a comprehensive and common sense approach to good resource governance. Canada remains committed to encouraging sustainable resource management and good CSR practices by Canadian companies in their operations abroad. Rest assured that Canada will continue to promote good environmental stewardship and responsible business conduct.

    Thank you for taking the time to share your views on this matter.


    The Honourable Ed Fast, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
    Minister of International Trade and
    Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

  2. SueBranford:
    Jan 05, 2015 at 07:00 PM

    Well, it sounds good in theory but, in practice, the Canadian government is not very helpful. We found out, with the help with a reader of the original LAB article, that Ouro Roxo is controlled by Albrook Gold Corporation, a Canadian mining company, but they refused to talk to us and the Canadian government would not provide any information either. The garimpeiros seem to have won, for the moment, at least. Long may it last!

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