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Vale S.A. is the second-largest mining company in the world. It is the world's largest producer of iron ore and pellets, and the second largest of nickel. Vale also produces manganese, ferroalloys, copper, bauxite, potash, kaolin, coal, alumina and aluminium. In the electric energy sector, the company participates in consortia and currently operates nine hydroelectric plants.
The company is headquartered in Brazil and has more than 100,000 employees. It operates in 38 countries, in 5 continents. Initially known as Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, it shortened its name to Vale in November 2007.
Av. Graça Aranha, 26 - Centro
20030-900 Rio de Janeiro
Murilo Ferreira |
Valepar is Vale's controlling shareholder, with 52% of the common shares. Valepar is a special-purpose company organized under the laws of Brazil that was incorporated for the sole purpose of holding an interest in Vale. Valepar does not have any other business activity. Valepar acquired its controlling stake in Vale from the Brazilian government in 1997 as part of the first stage of Vale's privatization.
BNDESPAR holds 6.2% of the common shares.
Valepar on its turn is owned by Litel Participações (owned by Banco do Basil) 49%, Bradespar (from Bradesco) 21.21%, Mitsui 18.24%, BNDESpar 11,51% and Elétron (Opportunity) 0,03% (Annual Report 2013).
An interactive overview of Vale's owners can be found on the site of the Instituto Mais Democracia.
Brazil - Charcoal ovens in Açaílândia
The International Movement of People Affected by Vale released a report that linked Vale's charcoal producing unit in Açailândia, Brazil, to life-threatening respiratory illnesses. The unit's 70 charcoal ovens produce a significant amount of smoke that endangers worker and public health in the region. The company has refused to acknowledge any responsibility for health problems linked to their operation.
Brazil - The Carajás iron ore mine and the railroad
Parauapebas, the city next to the Carajás mine, suffers from a never ending influx of migrant workers hoping to find a job at the mine, though most of them dont. The railroad, through which all the iron ore is transported to the coast, has caused large social impacts: there are very few safe passages, so deaths of people and cattle are common, the trains often stand still for longer periods on roadcrossings, blocking the passage for villagers and the heavy loaded trains also cause small earth tremblings which lead to cracks in houses. These impacts are expected to get worse with the planned duplication of the railway.
Mozambique - Moatize coal mine
The construction of Moatize coalmine cost nearly 800 brickmakers (oleiros) their livelihoods. In April 2013, protestors, unhappy with the company's compensation, blockaded road and rail access to the mine. Vale summoned local authorities who, according to local witnesses, dispersed the crowd by shooting protestors with rubber bullets.
Vale is facing several legal complaints regarding operational irregularities and community rights violations concerning its Moatize Coal Project in Mozambique. Between 2009 and early 2010, Vale's operations in the Tete province displaced more than 1,360 families who now suffer from widespread poverty and hunger.
In 2012, Vale's harmful business practices earned it the Public Eye People's Award, given annually to the company that shows the greatest disregard for human rights and the environment.
Brazil - Carajás Iron ore mine
Steel companies located around Carjás, burn 3 million ton of vegetable coal per year. For this 550.000 hectares of forest are cut. Eucaliptus plantations are used more and more for this, leading to strong land concentration and "green deserts" as biodiversity in the plantations is very low. Vale is also expanding its Carajás mine with the project S11D, which like the first mine, is located within a National Forest protected area.
Argentina - Rio Colorado portassium project
In Argentina, Vale's Rio Colorado potassium project threatens to contaminate a river basin where approximately 25,000 people subside. It also threatens a considerable amount of local plant and wildlife.
Brazil - Belo Monte Dam
Vale holds 9% of the shares of the Belo Monte Dam project, in the Xingu River. The Belo Monte Dam will destroy over 400 square kilometers of Brazilian rainforest and threatens to displace between 20,000 and 40,000 people. Thus far, 850 families have been evicted without any form of compensation. The dam's construction has already damaged the land and livelihoods of thousands residing in and around the river basin, including indigenous populations. Belo Monte has faced fierce resistance from social movements and indigenous peoples for over 20 years.
Independent studies confirm that the dam is socially, environmentally, technologically, and economically unsustainable. Furthermore, lawsuits, many of which have reached Brazil's Supreme Court, have repeatedly brought the project's legality into question. Despite concerted efforts, the project has made significant advancements over the last two years, receiving government approval to begin construction, as well as an unprecedented loan from Brazil's National Development Bank covering 80% of the $16 billion project. Vale has invested in nine additional Brazilian dams. Vale plans to reap the returns of these various investments by diverting hydroelectric power from the dams to export-oriented mining operations, like its Carajás iron ore mine.
Vale has poor human rights records in many parts of the world. Especially famous are cases in Brazil, Canada and India. Proof of this it that it won the Public Eye Award in 2012 with more than 25.000 votes, even more votes then Tepco - responsible for the Fukushima catastrophy.
The trial process on the Massacre of Carajás, found that Vale had financed the police operation that killed 19 peaceful protestors of the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra.
Vale was privatized in 1997 and sold for only USD 1.4 billion, whereas it's estimated reserves where worth 28 times more: USD 40 billion. There are 69 court cases questioning Vale's privatization.
Spying on NGOs
In 2012 a whistleblower denounced Vale for it's spying practices on social movements and environmental activists. According to him, the company has an intelegency department which employs over 200 people. Social movements campaigning against the Belo Monte Dam also uncovered a spy which is suspected to have links to Vale.
Guinea - Corruption?
Vale acquired the rights to explore the Simandou Mountains in the Republic of Guinea, in a very controversial deal with Beny Steinmetz Group Resources.