The company that received the most investments and loans in this period was Vale, with $35.8 billion, showing that not even the successive disasters in the towns of Mariana and Brumadinho reduced investors’ appetite for the mining company.
The data, obtained with the support of the Dutch institution Profundo Research and Advice, also show Canada’s interest in financing mining in Brazil.
The Royal Bank of Canada, the country’s largest private bank, poured $512 million into mining companies, and is the main institutional investor of the Volta Grande gold mining project, by Belo Sun Mining Corp, which is considered both socially and ecologically unfeasible.
Opening up Indigenous lands
‘Complicity in Destruction IV’ reveals that, despite recent statements by big mining companies claiming they would abandon their interests in Indigenous territories in Brazil, thousands of mining applications overlapping these areas are still active in the National Mining Agency’s (ANM) database.
Opening up Indigenous lands to mining and prospecting remains at the centre of Bolsonaro’s agenda.
With the advance of federal policies such as Bill 191/2020 and Bill 490/2007 in Congress, these applications serve to grant mining companies priority to explore these territories if the bills succeed.
‘The environmental damages and threats against the lives of forest peoples by mining activities are brutal and have only worsened under Bolsonaro’s administration. Last year, mining-related deforestation in the Amazon increased by 62% compared to 2018 – the year he was elected.
‘We are aware that the approval of Bill 191 could cause the loss of 16 million hectares of the Amazonian rainforest. With the rainforest at the tipping point of ecological collapse, we need to involve all the actors behind this industry. Governments, companies, and investors must all be held to account and stop this destruction. If companies fail to act, investors must divest.’
ANA PAULA VARGAS
Brazil program director of Amazon Watch
Following the release of Complicity in Destruction III, APIB and Amazon Watch began mapping the interests of large mining companies overlapping Indigenous lands in 2020.
Despite statements by giants such as Vale and Anglo American, claiming they would withdraw their applications for research and mineral exploration in these territories, the research shows that many applications remain active in ANM’s system—in some cases, there was even an increase in the number of requests.
Some applications were resubmitted so that exploration areas remained directly adjacent to Indigenous lands, still causing enormous impact.
The report focuses on the mining interests in Indigenous lands from nine companies: Vale, Anglo American, Belo Sun, Potássio do Brasil, Mineração Taboca/Mamoré Mineração e Metalurgia (both from Grupo Minsur), Glencore, AngloGold Ashanti and Rio Tinto.
Together, as of November 2021, they had a total of 225 active mining applications overlapping 34 Indigenous lands — an area that corresponds to 5,700 square kilometres or more than three times the city of London.
The Indigenous lands that are most affected by these applications are Xikrin do Cateté (PA), Waimiri Atroari (AM) and Sawré Muybu (PA).
The bulk of applications are concentrated in the Brazilian state of Pará, which increased twofold between July and November 2021.
The data were obtained through a partnership with the Mined Amazon project, from the InfoAmazonia portal, which resulted in an interactive dashboard — launched in tandem with the report — allowing real-time searches into the ANM database.
‘Complicity in Destruction IV’ also details the impacts and rights violations carried out by the mining companies Vale, Anglo American, Belo Sun, Potássio do Brasil and Mineração Taboca in five case studies.
With the support of the Mining Observatory, the history of these conflicts and their current developments were outlined, ranging from the invasion of traditional territories, contamination by heavy metals, and disregard for the right to Free, Prior, Informed consultation and Consent.
Through testimonies from the affected communities, which challenge the companies’ official statements about their initiatives, the report shows how the presence and activities of these corporations forever alter the lives of these peoples and communities.
Mining in the Amazon, specifically within Indigenous communities, can also destroy ecosystems and contribute to climate change.