Mine is accurate? ~ The mountains, the train, the port: the trail of the ore

Mine is accurate?

revistadoispontos January 20th, 2013


Mining the passes and leaves holes. In the photo, the Germano mine, Samarco, in Mariana (MG). (Pictured: Sen Castro)

by Matthew F and Sen Castro

“Ore gives one crop only,” warned the former President Arthur Bernardes Republic for over a hundred years. The mountains of Minas Gerais are fading to sustain a pattern of rampant consumption. The mining companies are increasingly expanding their activities by the mining territory and the cost to keep this template only goes up. A lifestyle that requires ever more exploitation of natural resources and creates the “underdevelopment of development” in municipalities supported by ore extracted from their lands by a financial contribution that tends to cease soon.

What remains are the environmental impacts, social and urban problems losses pile up at iron ore extracted cells. And threatens a fundamental natural right to life: water. The expansion of exploration devastates green area, sources and uses water in increasing scale, in a dispute with the needs of the municipalities where mining is installed.

Perishable wealth
Minas Gerais mining and get confused since always. First were the gold and precious stones. In the 20 century, the iron mining grew in size and importance until it became the core of a chain that moves about 35% of the gross domestic product of the State, according to estimates by economist and researcher of Regional development and planning center of Minas Gerais, Fabiana Borges.

As it grows in importance and productivity, this economic activity — always linked to “development” and “progress” of Nations and cities – expands its area of operation and will consume the mountains that always marked the mining landscape. The justification is the ore’s role in people’s lives: present from the more prosaic and tiny aspect of individual life even more general activities of society – a nail pliers to Itaipu turbines of a PIN to the most advanced technology of smartphones.

The element became critical to the development of the activities of the human being on the planet. There are six millennia, Egyptians, Europeans and Sumerians already used in weapons, tools and jewelry. Its handling was so important that even lent for a period in history his name: the iron age. The reality of the mining towns in the iron Quadrangle in Minas Gerais, leads to imagine that they live in a new age of iron.

A new iron age?
In this era of exploration, iron ore is the main product exported by Minas Gerais. In 2011, he represented 45% of everything that was sold by the State abroad, a total of $ 18.8 billion. In all, were 275 million tons that had China as the main destination. Is still planned for the coming years an investment of r $ 25 billion for iron ore, the largest concentration of resources in the history of the mines.

The extraction of ore from the Earth demand lots of technology – with the adoption of sophisticated production processes and reducing costs-and human resources-both the manpower required, as in the preservation of life in the places where it settles. To remove the mountains, the reality of the mining municipalities is also affected. If on the one hand the activity brings economic returns, it causes environmental damage, urban and social impacts.

To export, iron ore is a long way. The Estrada de Ferro Vitória a Minas (EFVM), it passes through the region of Vale do Rio Doce, Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo, reaching the port of Tubarão, Vitória (ES). There is also an outlet for pipeline right-of-way, as what binds Mariana (MG) to Anchieta (ES). Wherever he goes, the metal turns realities.

The social dimension of mining
There is no doubt the necessity of minerals in our life, especially iron. However, it is indisputable that we miners have a close relationship with the exploitation of these resources. Part, to some extent, the way we see the world, to see the present, the past and the future.

After the exhaustion of the gold mines in the region of Ouro Preto and Mariana, the Portuguese Crown and its representatives still sought a new eldorado in the State forests. Was what partly contributed to colonization of the Vale do Rio Doce. “They [Portuguese] still were searching for gold. They had the idea of fake Falcon, which Mines as a whole had much gold, much to be discovered, “says historian and professor at the Centro Universitário do Leste de Minas, Lucius Marcus Barnes.

Nowadays, it is known that the gold glitters as much as once, is the iron ore that comes to this new dimension of eldorado. Public coffers, the mining activity pays the financial compensation for Mineral Exploration (Cfem), a coveted by small municipalities that have no other relevant economic activity. “Perhaps the Cfem will create what I call the underdevelopment of development, because, in fact, creates a dependency of that municipality upon the mining company and, when she leaves, she plays this town into a crisis, “Fabiana Borges.

The development model based on mining activity creates more problems than solutions for the municipalities. “If there was a State of long-term planning, productive alternatives were created, maybe they don’t need or use [mining]”, argues the Economist.

“Washing gold mining near the Hill of the Itacolomi” by Johann Moritz Rugendas (between 1820 and 1825)

The Minas Gerais
Mining is not only the history of Minas Gerais, from his past: it constitutes the present and projected future of the State. At the end of the 17TH century, by the Ribeirão do Carmo the first gold nuggets were discovered. The hundred years were marked by the population growth and economic development in this region, but also by greed, anger and riots. Born here, therefore, a territory strongly marked by sentiment miner. This feeling that belongs today to the miners.

In the 18th century, also the brightness of diamonds cegavam the eyes of the Portuguese Crown. In the Arraial do Tijuco – current Diamantina-instituted a farm which also attracted large contingents. Also source of riots.

After the decline, caused by saturation of the exploratory model and high taxation by the Court of Portugal, few mining ventures Avenged in the State. However, it was at the turn of the century 19 to 20, the situation changed. It turned out that in the region of Itabira, State Center, there was a large iron ore deposit of high quality. Again the eyes of the great world powers turned to mines. The ore was, at the time, fundamental to the imperialist expansion.

The mountains
The discovery of the Cauê peak, channeling much of the iron ore good quality in Itabira, until the beginning of exploratory activity began almost four decades ago. The region was the target of the dispute between British and American businessmen and politicians are wealth nationalists. Only in 1942 was the Companhia Vale do Rio Doce (CVRD), State mining company which put an end to the diplomatic imbroglio.

The model itabirano iron ore mining spread in other parts of the territory are also rich with mining the valuable metal that, in ancient Mesopotamia, was worth more than gold.

It was established under the banner of CVRD and other private companies – such as the MBR and Samarco mining centers in the big four-corners of the Quadrangle. Cities such as Mariana, Ouro Preto, Congonhas, Itabirito, Nova Lima, São Gonçalo do Rio Abaixo, Sabará, Barão de Cocais, Brumadinho, Caeté, among others received and receive major investments of these companies.

And in every corner, the scenario is more or less the same: open-pit mines with large processing plants; trains or pipeline right-of-way to take every bit of land in our territory.

Iron train
Mining production chain involves other sectors of the economy. In addition to continuous demand stimulation of trade and public services in the cities in which the miners are inserted, the activity keeps strong bond with the steel industry and metallurgy.

In the State of Minas, the main hub of this industry is the steel Valley, which includes the municipalities of Ipatinga, Coronel Fabriciano and Timóteo. The development of the activity in the region is due to the fact that the rails of the Estrada de Ferro Vitória-Minas cut through the municipalities. The EFVM was created to bring iron ore for export of Itabira until the port of Tubarão (ES). So how much of Vale do Rio Doce, the cities of the steel Valley share its history with the train and with mining.

The train, which carries iron in wagons and name, takes people too. Miners who will meet the sea, Los Altos who come to visit our mountains. The EFVM railway line is the only one left in the daily passenger transport in Brazil.

The port of Tubarão in Vitória (ES). From there the ore to China. (Pictured: Sen Castro)

The ports
The endpoints of our journey through the trail that passes the ore lead us to the places where it is exported, Espírito Santo-Vitória, Vila Velha, Anchieta. In Victoria, the State capital, the beauty of the beaches contrast with the port of Tubarão, which most boards of iron ore in the world. Vila Velha shows the potential of tourism as economic source in two postcards: the Convento da Penha and the Railway Museum, which tells the story of the EFVM and mining.

Already in Anchieta, the 85 km of Vitoria, visited a region that is in full economic development. Driven by investments from Vale and Petrobras, the city founded by the Jesuit missionary-who receives the name, live for more than 30 years with the final lines of the pipeline right-of-way of Samarco Mineração. The current challenge is to plan for the administration of the resources that will be transferred through royalties.


Trip on trem da Estrada de Ferro Vitória a Minas from Belo Horizonte to Ipatinga.

The Colon begins to follow the “trail of the ore”, reporting on series that runs through the places where the metal goes from mountains to export. In this course, which will last at least two weeks, put into debate the different aspects of this economic activity that generates wealth, which is linked to progress and development visions and shrouded in controversy and problems of communities is directly entered and of all mankind.

The “ore Track” follow for that week by the mountains in which the ore is extracted and where its starts. Tomorrow, we’ll tell you a little of the history of mining in Brazil, as this economic activity was formed and is institutionalized. Follow and join in.




The mountains, the train, the port: the trail of the ore

revistadoispontos January 20th, 2013

by Matthew F and Sen Castro

Luís Fernando Veríssimo says that “everybody laughed when it hurts”. And what hurts in Mariana – where is the journalism course at the Federal University of Ouro Preto – is the extraction of iron ore. Sometimes visible other not so much, but in our daily lives, we feel on the skin the effects of its mining activities. It Hurt! But laugh it to realize that it was there our theme of dissertation (CBT) – which usually scares the students: “what matters to treat? Is the work that sums up what I learned in four years! ” The trail of the ore proved to be a challenge to go. And only we can think of it divided into chapters. Episodes of a story in a series that starts today.

It turns out that, like the “butterfly effect”, it was not possible to speak of the localized form ore, without considering that we were in one of the regions most important-if not the most important-in mining of Brazil. Without going back three centuries in history and look how it began in the gold mines. It was not enough to say that, today, the Quadrangle-which Ouro Preto and Mariana are part — extraction, polo is still mainly with iron mining. To understand how it affects this place-and the other wherever he goes-it was necessary to accompany it, follow it, walk along with it the same way. Investigate the intricacies of activity, social, economic and political environment that surrounds them. Travel-figurative and literally!

The starting point was given: the mountains where the extraction is made. The midway as well: the pipeline right-of-way and the train, where they are transported Ore mountains. The arrival, as it should be: the port, where our “ex-montanhas” are shipped abroad.

One of the alternatives you have to accompany us in this journey is to follow the trail that we propose trace. Guided by the order of the posts, the way that we choose to follow. But you can start wherever you want – especially if you arrived here after we posted it all. Browse by cities, by themes, by tags. Make your own route. Set your own departure and destination.

This was one of the reasons why we chose the magazine two points to house the report. It already existed before the TCC, and will still exist after him. Always comes to broad and comprehensive themes. Provides space to host any subject. And it is dynamic enough to allow as many approaches as we wish. And malleable for our trials.

Chosen the theme, try to stump it. We dug deep. Mineramos data, files, documents. Mining stories, people, places. This all in the search for the best information, the best treatment. Give her the processing necessary so we could present it in the best way that our tools could provide, with the humble longing to return to those places that we received, the expectations placed in us.

In more than 1200 miles travelled by train, bus, car or on foot, we came across the various dimensions that the issue of mining and its production chain involves. On the one hand, brings resources and stimulate investments. On the other hand, leaves a dependent economic structure and brings environmental and social damage. Meet people who are involved in the questioning of the model adopted and who do not see how a single alternative to the development. And this is what we believe.

Ore trail Experimental project of the UFOP’s journalism course

Students Matthew F Sen Castro

Teacher Advisor Ricardo Augusto Orlando



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