Aug 14 (Reuters) – A Brazilian federal court on Friday ordered Vale SA to halt activity at its Onça Puma nickel mine in Brazil’s Amazon state of Pará until it can demonstrate what actions it has taken to compensate indigenous communities in the region.
Vale’s operations in Pará face regular legal and protest action by native Brazilian groups seeking better schools, health care and other public services.
Onça Puma, in Ourilândia do Norte, is part of a complex of mines operated by Vale in the state’s Carajas region. The mine produced 5,900 tonnes of finished nickel in the second quarter, or about 8.8 percent of Vale’s finished-nickel output.
The most common protest by indigenous groups has involved blocking Vale’s rail line between Carajas and the Atlantic Ocean.
The court also ordered Vale, the world’s second-largest nickel producer, to deposit 1 million reais ($287,000) for each indigenous village in the area until it establishes a compensation program for the communities.
Vale’s press office said it had no immediate comment but added that it is investigating the situation.
The company has said it works closely with native groups but that many of their demands are the responsibility of Brazil’s federal and state governments, not Vale. Under its mining licenses, Vale is required to provide environmental and other compensation to local communities.
Nickel, a metal that is both hard and malleable, is used primarily to make steel and other alloys rust resistant. Rio de Janeiro-based Vale is also the largest producer of iron ore, the main ingredient in steel.
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