Home Institution

Rice University

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Program Name

Brazil: Amazon Resource Management and Human Ecology


The case of Palmares II is examined to understand the role that knowledge (or misinformation/lack thereof) of specific geologic interests and rights of surface communities plays in enabling those communities to respond to the possibility of mining on their land. Palmares II is an MST settlement located near the Carajás mining complex in southern Pará. Currently, a number of companies are authorized or requesting permission to conduct research for mineral ores such as gold, copper, manganese, diamond, and nickel within the borders of the settlement; it is therefore potentially possible that this community will face mining interest on their land in coming years. Knowledge of the laws regulating mining was gathered from publicly available sources and discussions with lawyers and employees of the Ministério Público of Pará state. Knowledge of current mineral processes (including requests for permission to conduct research) in Palmares was gathered from the DNPM’s online SIGMINE database. To assess the accuracy and completeness of information present in the community, information from these two sources was compared to the analogous knowledge and beliefs of the community leadership, as collected through a series of unstructured interviews in the settlement with members of various community organizations and the newly-formed Movimento dos Atingidos pelo Mineração (MAM).

Some major points of mining law were not seemingly known by the leadership of Palmares, including the specifics of what companies were authorized to conduct research, and importantly, required compensation to landowners. The leadership is aware of the incompleteness of its own knowledge, however, and this is motivating action on the part of MAM.

Information is distributed unequally within the community- those in leadership positions have a much clearer picture of their rights than rural landowners. However, mining companies such as Vale are directing much of their interactions with the communities through these individuals in the field, exploiting the lack of knowledge.

Thus, the presence of partial information, and the perception of that information as being incomplete, is spurring community response. At the same time, however, the gaps in this knowledge are being used by the companies in the region to advance their own agenda. MAM is currently focusing on becoming a national political voice, but to succeed it must focus on becoming relevant to this rural community as well.


Civic and Community Engagement | Environmental Health and Protection | Inequality and Stratification | Natural Resources and Conservation | Natural Resources Management and Policy


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