In response to a civil lawsuit filed on November 13th by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s office in the state of Pará (MPF-PA), a federal judge has ordered the immediate suspension of environmental licensing for a massive gold mining project proposed by Canadian-based Belo Sun Mining along the Big Bend (Volta Grande) of the Xingu River until full analysis of effects on indigenous peoples has been carried out within the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). MPF also calls for a process of free, prior and informed consultations and consent among local indigenous peoples regarding the project in accordance with ILO Convention 169 and the Brazilian Constitution.
Judge Sergio Wolney stated in his decision that, “the licensing of the mining project without necessary and prior analysis of impacts on indigenous peoples – a fact confirmed by evidence presented in this case – constitutes a serious violation of environmental legislation and indigenous rights.”
According to Wolney an “undeniable fact” is that the mining project, slated for installation in the immediate vicinity of the controversial Belo Monte dam complex, may lead to devastating and irreversible consequences – including synergistic impacts with Belo Monte – for the quality of life and cultural heritage of indigenous peoples and their territories.
For the MPF, granting an environmental license for an additional project with such severe probable impacts without a prior study of its consequences for indigenous populations is inadmissible. The people of the Big Bend of the Xingu will already suffer the worst impacts of Belo Monte as a result of the diversion of 80% to 90% of the Xingu River’s flow to feed the dam’s turbines. The potential impacts of Belo Monte are so severe that the federal environmental agency (IBAMA), when granting a first phase license for the project, established a six-year period to test whether the Big Bend and its people would be able to survive a permanent hydrological deficit and other consequences of diversion of the Xingu river associated with dam construction.
Meanwhile, Belo Sun stated today that it will take all “applicable legal measures to appeal the decision of the Federal Judge and defend the validity and legality of the licensing process.”
Atendendo a pedido feito pelo MPF na semana passada, o juiz federal de Altamira obrigou a mineradora a fazer os estudos de impactos sobre os indígenas