Vale S.A.: Forced resettlement of the iron foundry´s neighbours

This report is part of our former “Harmful Cases” documentation, where we continuously and concisely recorded human rights violations, violations of international law or environmental destruction caused by companies.

Environmental and health damages in Brazil

The 380 Families, who are living next to Vale´s iron foundry in Piquià de Baixo in the North-Brazilian state of Maranhão, are more and more often forced to resettle to other places. Indeed, over the past 25 years, five factories have been erected next to the village.Their pollution und environmental damages leave the inhabitants with no option but to abandon their homes. Chimneys are continually throwing out coal and iron dust, which pollute water, soil and air. Agriculture, being the essential activity of the local people, is no more possible. A study of the center for infectious diseases of the federal University of Maranhão has put forward that 40% of the inhabitants suffer from airways, lung, and skin diseases. Escape appears to be the best solution.

The case of the families of the Piquià de Baixo is not an isolated case. Vale has already been criticized by international organizations and networks. The company had taken advantage of the liberalization in the mining sector in Brazil since the seventies to settle in the Amazon rainforest. The consequences for the environment and the inhabitants are now considerable. In 2012 Vale has even received the „Public Eye Award“ for being the most environmentally and socially harmful company, which is annually awarded by NGOs.

Concerning the inhabitants of Piquià de Baixo, NGOs and the farmer´s association are taking action to get Vale to allocate compensation for the inhabitants. Up to now, this was rejected by Vale.

Please find more information via the following links:

International Federation for Human Rights
Womblog, News from Latin America (de)