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Colby College

Publication Date

Spring 2007

Program Name

Brazil: Amazon Resource Management and Human Ecology


This project analyzes the possible environmental and socioeconomic impacts of Serra Leste, a newly proposed iron mine by the Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD). However, Serra Leste is also part of a much larger system of CVRD projects which has recently had a profound influence on the micro-region surrounding Curionópolis, the future cite of the operation. Interviews, CVRD studies, and secondary sources were used and contrasted to evaluate the situation from several angles. Environmentally, Serra Leste will have profound impacts on the water, air, and soil. Specifically, the mine will probably have the largest influence on regional water tables, based on the potential use of explosives and insufficient information in the CVRD impact evaluations. In the socioeconomic sense, the project will draw a large migration of laborers which the dwindling infrastructure of Curionópolis simply cannot support. Furthermore, insufficient and ambiguous social programs and compensations suggest that the municipal government will be forced to shoulder the majority of these problems. Ultimately, Serra Leste is a case study for the larger impacts of CVRD projects in the region. This new project directly supports and sustains others, such as the Grand Carajás Railroad and the thermoelectric complex proposed for Barcarena. More importantly, it exposes the influence CVRD exerts in the region. Despite current and historic instances of corruption and dishonesty, licensing agencies cannot halt the inertia of proliferating projects, largely because they lack sufficient resources. It is necessary to evaluate the corporate-community relationship in this area and ensure that it is mutually beneficial, not simply those with power exploiting those without.


Civil and Environmental Engineering | Natural Resources Management and Policy


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