Mining communities from a resilience perspective : managing disturbance and vulnerability in Itabira, Brazil.

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This paper applies the resilience lens to a social–ecological system characterized by the presence of large-scale mineral extraction operations. The system in question is the Brazilian community of Itabira, Minas Gerais, host to an iron ore operation of Vale, the world’s second largest mining corporation. Utilizing a resilience assessment framework, this study describes the various components of the Itabira social–ecological system revealing the challenges brought about by mining’s dominance. Data collection included literature reviews and semi-structured interviews with 29 individuals representing different stakeholder groups. Findings revealed that, despite recent efforts by government to regulate the industry, the mine continues to generate press and pulse disturbances that impact the resilience of the community. Operating from the standpoint that resilience depends largely upon the management capacity of stakeholders, the research identifies three ways to improve mining governance in Itabira. First, there is a need for local government to have more power in dealings with the corporation. Concurrent with this power, however, the municipality must demonstrate ownership over its fate, ideally through the creation of a sustainability plan. Finally, all key parties must demonstrate commitment to cooperating to resolve outstanding disturbances, even when these fall outside the regulatory approval process. While Itabira will remain a mining town for the foreseeable future, actions taken now to address challenges will only strengthen community wellbeing and sustainability moving forward.
Mining community, Resilience, Sustainability, Governance
LEIS, J. W.; FITZPATRICK, P.; FONSECA, A. de F. C. Mining communities from a resilience perspective: managing disturbance and vulnerability in Itabira, Brazil. Environmental Management, New York, v. 53, p. 481-495, 2014. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 20 jul. 2017.