Anglo American does not rule out mining on Indigenous lands in the Brazilian Amazon

APIB and Amazon Watch have demanded that the mining company make a public commitment not to carry out mining activities on Indigenous lands in Brazil, regardless of changes to Brazilian legislation.

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Foto: Beka Munduruku
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On January 25, British mining company Anglo American responded to the open letter from the Association of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples (APIB) and Amazon Watch from December 22, in which the organizations demanded that the mining company make a public commitment not to carry out mining activities on Indigenous lands in Brazil, regardless of changes to Brazilian legislation. In its response, Anglo American states: "We cannot make a commitment to rule out any mining activities on Indigenous Lands in Brazil."


Without mentioning Bolsonaro's new policy that authorizes mining on Indigenous lands (PL 191/2020), Anglo American says that all legislative changes that affect Indigenous rights must be made in consultation with the potentially affected communities, and “such consultations should appreciate the complexity and diversity of communities, and that their aspirations may differ, with some communities welcoming mining and others deciding against it.”


However, Bolsonaro's bill proposes to reclaim full control over land use, while removing the veto power of Indigenous peoples in relation to the exploration of their territories. Mining would only require approval at the President’s discretion, after a merely symbolic consultation process with Indigenous peoples to confirm projects.


After receiving this response, APIB requested a meeting with Anglo American to explain and share once again the demands of the Indigenous movement and communities potentially impacted by the mining company and replied to Anglo American in a response letter. For APIB, Anglo's response is insufficient. “We are waiting for a new resolution by Anglo American, which should be only one for Indigenous peoples: to publicly commit to cease mining activities on Indigenous territories in Brazil. It is important to remind the mining company that the majority of Indigenous peoples and communities in Brazil do not share the desires of a minority of Indigenous individuals who are deluded and yield to the veiled evil intentions of this government,” according to Eloy Terena, APIB’s Legal Coordinator.


APIB’s and Amazon Watch response letter to Anglo American can be read here.




On November 20, in response to the Business and Human Rights Resource Center, Anglo American stated that it had given up all applications for mineral exploration inside Indigenous lands in Brazil and that it would contact the Brazilian National Mining Agency (ANM) to update its applications, following the release of the Complicity in Destruction III report, published by APIB and Amazon Watch. However, on November 27, InfoAmazônia revealed that the National Mining Agency (ANM) had granted permission for 27 of the mining company’s applications for copper prospection within Indigenous territories in the states of Mato Grosso and Pará. Of those 27, 13 are for prospecting in the Sawré Muybu territory.


In the response sent to APIB, the mining company claimed to “adhere to local laws and international standards when engaging with Indigenous Peoples and we will seek to obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of Indigenous Peoples prior to conducting activities that require access to Indigenous Peoples’ lands and/or impact Indigenous Peoples’ livelihoods or cultural heritage during all stages of exploration.” Anglo American also alleged to respect “the right of indigenous communities to oppose mining-related activities on their land and will refrain from undertaking any activities if consent is withheld.”


However, the company fails to mention any consultation efforts with the Munduruku people and even though it acknowledges having three concession applications that overlap the Sawré Muybu Indigenous Territory.


The Munduruku people have made their veto clear in a recent demonstration held on January 16, in the Sai Cinza village, in Itaituba, state of Pará. With a banner, they sent their message in English: “Anglo American: Out of Munduruku – TI Sawré Muybu.”


Alessandra Munduruku, a Munduruku leader and warrior, shared photos from the action on her Facebook page, with the message: “The Anglo American mining company requested authorization to ANM to explore the Sawré Muybu Indigenous Territory—[it is] a mining company that destroys forests, rivers, and Indigenous peoples. We are here inside [our territory] and will continue to be. Anglo American—Get Out! Demarcation Now! The people will go on resisting.”


At the Munduruku People Resistance Forum, held in December 2020, the Munduruku mentioned mining and the presence of large mining companies on their territory, such as Anglo American, as high-impact threats to their territories and communities in a heartfelt announcement demanding the recognition of the Munduruku's rights to life and land.


In support of the demands issued by the Munduruku, APIB and Amazon Watch have published a petition that will be sent to Anglo American to pressure the mining company to withdraw its mining applications on Indigenous territories.


The Munduruku people and all Indigenous peoples who may be impacted by Anglo American's activities demand that the mining company make a public commitment to cease all mining activities in Indigenous territories in Brazil and that it withdraw all applications for mineral exploration in Indigenous territories. Only then would Anglo American be in line with their human rights and biodiversity protection pledges, particularly the ICMM Position Statement on Mining and Protected Areas.


Anglo American's full response and clarification regarding their mineral research applications on Indigenous lands can be read here. And its policy for Indigenous peoples is summarized in a document called Social Way, available here.


Brasilia, Brazil and Oakland, U.S., February 9 2021



- Amazon Watch is a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin.


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