The META MPE Project “Socioeconomic and Environmental Diagnosis of Small-scale Mining in Brazil,” is a comprehensive study of the SSM sector within the Brazilian context. Carried out on request from the Brazilian Ministry of Mining and Energy (MME), the study has as its objective to analyze the socioeconomic and environmental dynamics of SSM universe in Brazil and, from the evaluation of the sector’s current conditions, to recommend public policy aiming at its organization and promotion. In this way, the diagnostic made by the Projekt-Consult/RCS Global Consortium has the purpose of providing information for strategic planning.
This study was requested by MME from the acknowledgment that the array of existing information on SSM in Brazil had several constraints. Being exclusively based on data related to formalized operations, it does not reflect the practical reality of the sector in the country. Official statistics are incomplete, outdated to some extent, and scattered throughout various institutions within the Brazilian public administration.
In order to bridge this gap, a survey was done to include – on top of documentation analysis, case studies in five regions selected to represent the universe of substances extracted by SSM in Brazil, viz. gold (Tapajós mining reserves, in Pará, and in the Peixoto valley, in Mato Grosso), clay (Santa Gertrudes ceramic hub, in São Paulo), gems and precious stones (Jequitinhonha and Mucuri valleys, in the Northeast of Minas Gerais), and construction aggregates (Recife metropolitan area, in Pernambuco). There was also done a comprehensive survey of the literature and documentation on the economic impact at local, regional, and national levels, as well as that related to SSM public policies. Upon overlaidand compared, the bibliographic analyses and the considerations on legislation and public policy for SSM, the case studies revealed the existence of behavioral and organizational standards in the SSM universes that brought up a fresh view of the sector.
Qualitative data represents the analysis base for this socioeconomic and environmental report. It covers features that cannot be analyzed exclusively from quantitative data, such as the characteristics of the forms of organization, the social structure of mining communities, environmental impact and the connections between the SSM sector and the economic, governmental, and social sectors. The analysis included issues such as gender, labor relations and other variables, such as age, education level, professional autonomy, and migration. From the analysis of this data, the motivation of social players, in adopting particular lifestyles, and in choosing specific economic and environmental behaviors, become evident, as well as the stance of stakeholders in this area regarding the formalization process. Hence the report characterizes the SSM universe in Brazil in detail, by dealing with social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental issues.
The five case study reports found in Volume II of Report 3 provide input for the final analysis of the domestic scenario of SSM. However, Volume I of Product 3 and each case study report making up Volume II can be read independently.
There is a great variation in the forms of organization of MPE in Brazil. The role of the MPE sector in each locality is different in social, cultural and economic terms. The degree of inclusion in the economic system, in the legal system, and capital-labor relationships in the extraction process are all important variables. However, the people involved in the activity also share several important characteristics, even if there are differences in terms of the mineral substance extracted and the type of mining.
The analysis of public policies shows that these do not always meet the needs of the sector. It can be concluded, for example, that the mineral extensionism initiative did not work as expected due to difficulties in coordination and cooperation between the agents involved. In addition, it is possible to infer that the mineral APL projects also did not materialize as foreseen for a different reason: the lack of capacity to create structures of mutual trust between the agents involved in the activity.
Finally, the analysis of the socioeconomic dynamics of the SSM and of the public policies aimed at it, reveals the presence of governance mechanisms inherent to informality intrinsic to the studied universes. The results point to the existence of a self- sustaining cycle of informality, from a history of years of misinformation, conflicting policies and distrust of the players in the sector when it comes to government policies, associated with the complex process of formalization and the punitive approach of agents in charge of overseeing activities.
The report presents, in its Chapter 9, some reflections on the challenges and possibilities for a more efficient SSM organization, and Chapter 10 shows the conclusions and proposals for developing public policies for this sector.