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Social perception at the onset of a mining development in Eastern Amazonia, Brazil

Valente J. Matlaba, José Aroudo Mota, Maria Cristina Maneschy and Jorge Filipe dos Santos

Resources Policy, 2017, vol. 54, issue C, 157-166

Abstract: The mineral industry generally operates in remote territories where lifestyles are often unrelated to the logic of the global market and the infrastructure and institutions are fragile. These conditions increase the complexity of the impact of mining. Thus, the sustainability of the industry must consider the social perceptions of local communities. This article focuses on social perceptions at the start of operations of the S11D iron mine — currently the largest in operation in the world — located in the municipality of Canaã dos Carajás, southeast Pará state, Eastern Amazonia. The methodology of the study involves the use of questionnaires, administered in 2015 to a stratified sample of 253 households of the central district of the municipality. The analysis identifies the role that differences in gender, origin, time of arrival in the city, and a person's occupation have on perceptions. The results show high acceptance — with 83% of the respondents perceiving the mining positively — indicating concession of a social license to operate, mainly due to opportunities for work and income and the increase in both activity in the city and the collection of taxes and fees. Negative aspects were poor public management, environmental degradation, and a fear of fleeting prosperity. Perceptions were most favorable among those who had recently arrived in the city — people who are still hoping to socially integrate — and those who arrived a long time ago and are already embedded in the local context. The population consists of migrants who settled in the territory at the same time as the industry. Therefore, unlike other contexts dealt with in the literature, there is no conflict between the community and the project. The challenge for the mining company and the public authorities in converting the mineral assets into sustainable local development, especially through more efficient management of the city, remains.

Keywords: Perception; Mining; Amazonia; Canaã dos Carajás; Sustainability (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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Handle: RePEc:eee:jrpoli:v:54:y:2017:i:c:p:157-166