Indians demanding greater compensation from mining operations in the Amazon region have invaded a company town owned by the world’s largest iron ore miner, the company said yesterday, October 18.
Brazil’s CVRD said about 200 Indians from the Xikrin tribe occupied the town of Carajás in an apparent attempt "to pressure the company to increase financial contributions to the indigenous community."
In a statement, the company characterized the occupation late on Tuesday night of Carajás as violent but did not say if there were any injuries or fatalities.
Carajás, which was built by CVRD, is in the largely undeveloped state of Pará, about 2,000 kilometers north of São Paulo.
CVRD, or Companhia Vale do Rio Doce SA, did not say whether production had been affected at the Carajás complex, which produces about 70 million metric tons of iron ore yearly and is being expanded.
The Xikrins, who live in two remote villages, could not immediately be reached for contact. Brazil’s Indian Missionary Council, a Roman Catholic Church-backed group that helps many tribes, said it was trying to learn details about the occupation but had no immediate comment.
The invasion came eight months after Indian tribes blocked a railroad from Carajás in protests over health care, reducing CVRD’s first-quarter iron ore shipments by one million metric tons.
CVRD said it now contributes about US$ 4.3 million annually to the Xikrins under a social-development agreement signed in June.
The company said it would use legal methods to protect its workers and property. It called the invasion illegal and a form of extortion, and said it could result in the cancellation of the social-development deal.
Over 200 Indians are still occupying the company today. In an interview with Agência Brasil by telephone, Indian chief Karangré Xikrin said that his people want to negotiate personally with a high executive of CVRD. They will not accept "telephone message or document," he stressed.