Belo Sun and the seven errors (game) that may once and for all do in the Big Bend of the Xingu River

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As if weren’t enough having the Belo Monte plant right next door, the environmental study of the country's largest mining project was conducted by the same engineer indicted for murder as a result of the Mariana (MG) dam rupture
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The program Fantástico, of the Globo Television Network, aired last Sunday (19), showed the country’s largest gold mining project, neighboring the hydroelectric plant of Belo Monte (PA). The mine has its environmental feasibility study signed by the same engineer who was indicted for murder as a result of the Mariana (MG) dam rupture (watch).



ISA presents another 7 pieces of information that do not appear in the report and which you need to know about:

1 - Mining waste pile twice the size of Rio’s Sugarloaf Mountain

The company Belo Sun intends to install a gold mine with a tailings dam larger than the one that ruptured causing the tragedy of Mariana (MG). Although it qualifies the risk of the dam rupturing as high, the mining company does not provide any information on the possible consequences of such a rupture on the indigenous and riparian populations living in the region. In twelve years, it is estimated that 600 tons of gold will be extracted. By the end of the enterprise, the initiative predicts it will leave behind two giant piles of waste material, which altogether will cover an area of 346 hectares, with an average height of 205 meters, containing 504 million tons of rocks. A pile twice as large as the Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, stuffed with chemically active material, at the edge of the Xingu River (see below the animation produced by ISA).

2 – The gold goes, and the burden remains

The municipality Senador José Porfírio will raise R$ 235 million in taxes during the duration of the project. Will the municipality be able to bear the liability these mountains of mining waste represent? Belo Sun’s Environmental Impact Studies do not provide for their removal. The heaps of refuse are an eternal threat to the Xingu River and the people living in the Big Bend.



3 – Where is IBAMA?

Why is it that a project with such high socio-environmental risk, 11 kilometers from Belo Monte, on the banks of a federal river, and neighboring two Indigenous Lands already affected by the hydroelectric plant, will not be monitored by the Brazilian Environmental Institute (IBAMA)? A technical note from ISA concludes that the mining company’s licensing, along with the plant’s licensing, should be the responsibility of the federal government, and not of the state of Pará (read here). The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) also fights in court for the project to be evaluated by IBAMA.

4 – Indians want to be consulted

In June 2014, the Federal Court suspended the environmental licensing of the mining project demanding that Belo Sun deliver the studies of impacts on indigenous populations. The company managed to overturn the decision, but the Indians want to be consulted on the project before the licensing process advances. One of the concerns is the risk of contamination of the river (read more).

5 – In six years, everything can change

Belo Sun’s Environmental Impact Studies were conducted in 2009, when the installation of Belo Monte hadn’t even begun. The reality of the Big Bend of the Xingu River has been changed completely. MPF has already determined that the Secretariat of Environment of the State of Pará demand that the company update the studies so that they take into account the changes the Xingu River has undergone.



6 – There was a dam in the middle of the road

The natural oscillation of the water level in the Big Bend will cease to exist, with its minimum quota remaining, as a result of the damming in the main reservoir of Belo Monte. Several species of fish are at risk of extinction. As a result, during six years, Norte Energia, the company responsible for the hydroelectric plant, will be required to monitor the area under IBAMA’s assessment. If another massive undertaking settles in the region, it will be impossible to determine the impacts of the two enterprises and Brazilian society will never get to know them.

7 – Barred from entering the club

After scheduling a ceremony to announce the installation of the mining project, the Secretariat of Environment of the State of Pará decided to retract its previous resolution, and postpone the event because of the negative repercussion, as reported by the newspaper O Estado de São Paulo (watch the video below to learn more).

More than 100,000 people have signed a public petition on the Internet requesting governor Simon Jatene (PSDB) not to grant the installation license at the moment. If you have not yet signed, now you have 7 more reasons for doing so (sign here).

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Letícia Leite
ISA
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