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Mining activities are intrinsically reliant on land where mineral resources are available. At Vale, it is imperative that our mining operations are conducted with utmost respect for the rights of communities, including Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities living in or utilizing these territories for their traditional practices. ​ 

Vale’s approach is aimed at managing the risks and impacts from our activities on these territories while respecting cultural diversity and the rights of these communities. This includes recognizing their unique relationship with the land, encompassing not only physical, social and economic aspects but also cultural and spiritual ones.  

Our relationship with indigenous and traditional communities is focused on building and sustaining trust, supporting empowerment and resilience, achieving mutual benefits, and fostering ethnodevelopment within these communities. 
Photo: Leunas Costa

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It is important to note that Vale does not hold mining rights within Indigenous Lands in Brazil. In 2021, we relinquished all such rights and withdrew our applications for mineral exploration permits and mining concessions, including those in Indigenous Lands that were not yet officially recognized. This decision is grounded in our belief that mining activities in these territories should only proceed with the Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) of resident Indigenous Peoples and in compliance with the laws and regulations applicable to such activities.  

Vale currently has mining operations in traditional territories only to the extent this is permitted by applicable laws and regulations, such as in Canada. In these regions, we uphold the same commitments concerning the rights of Indigenous Peoples.  
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Vale`s Archive
In 2022, Vale revisited its strategy for engaging with these communities, placing an increased emphasis on managing operational risks and impacts, actively supporting the institutional empowerment of them, sharing value and building partnerships. This strategy aligns with Vale’s overarching business strategy and Social Ambition, which has set a 2030 target to “support all Indigenous communities neighboring Vale's operations in development and execution of their plans and their pursuit of rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).”  

Our strategy also supports the “Truth and Reconciliation” process in Canada, including efforts aimed at fortifying relations with these Indigenous communities and recognizing and upholding their rights. Vale’s approach to relations with Indigenous and traditional communities works to establish long-term agreements aimed at building and sustaining trust and strengthening partnerships.  

Where we are present

Vale interacts with 28 different Indigenous Peoples: 13 in Brazil, 09 in Canada, and 6 in the Andes (Chile and Peru).  

We also interact with 47 Traditional Communities in Brazil. These communities are highly diverse, and their definitions vary. In identifying and characterizing these communities, Vale applies prevailing legislation and international standards, even though they may often conflict with each other. The criteria we use include ethnic, social, and cultural diversity, specific rights, and these communities’ relationship with their territories and natural resources. Vale’s scope of interaction extends, for example, to Quilombolas, Gypsies, coconut breakers, and artisanal fishermen in the states of Pará, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and Espírito Santo. 
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Indigenous Peoples relationship in Brazil

In Pará: 

  • Under implementation: programs specified in the Basic Environmental Plan of the Indigenous Component (PBA-CI) of the Onça Puma mining.  

Xikrin do Cateté 
  • Under implementation: programs specified in the Basic Environmental Plan of the Indigenous Component (PBA-CI) of the Onça Puma mining, compliance with environmental requirements related to the Salobo mining. Preparation of the Xikrin Bilingual Dictionary. Long-term agreement comprising initiatives in various areas. 

Gavião (Parkatêjê, Kyikatêjê, and Akrãtikatêjê) 
  • Under implementation: programs specified in the Basic Environmental Plan of the Estrada de Ferro Carajás (EFC) railway. Long-term agreement comprising initiatives in various areas. 

In Maranhão: 

Awá, Guajajara and Ka'apor 
  • Under implementation: programs specified in the Basic Environmental Plan of the Estrada de Ferro Carajás (EFC) railway. Project, called Vidas Indígenas no Maranhão, has been launched in collaboration with Museu da Pessoa, with 52 self-declared Indigenous Heritage Guardians. Initiatives in various areas are also being implemented under a long-term agreement. 

In Minas Gerais: 

  • Under implementation: A long-term agreement. 

Pataxó and Pataxó Hã Hã Hãe 
  • Under implementation: reparation actions due to the dam collapse in Brumadinho. 

In Espírito Santo: 

Tupiniquim and Guarani 
  • Under implementation: programs specified in the Basic Environmental Plan of the Estrada de Ferro Vitória-Minas (EFVM) railway.   

In Canada, Vale engages with the following Indigenous Peoples: 

  • Ontario: Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation, Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, Wahnapitae First Nation, Whitefish River First Nation, Métis Nation of Ontario (Regions 1, 5, 9), Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. 
  • Manitoba: Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (CNC). 
  • Newfoundland & Labrador: Innu Nation and Nunatsiavut Government 
Information on relationship communities is constantly updated depending on new operations, projects or identification of communities close to Vale's activities.


47 Traditional Communities in Brazil  

  • 30 Quilombola communities in the states of Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, and Rio de Janeiro; 
  • 3 groups of Artisanal Fishermen in the states of Pará and Rio de Janeiro; 
  • 1 Gipsy community (Calon de Santa Bárbara) in Minas Gerais (our relationship with this community began after the dam collapse in Brumadinho);
  • 13 groups of coconut breakers in the state of Maranhão. 

Our Approach 

Vale’s approach to engagement with Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities based on our Global Human Rights Policy, which in turn draws guidance from international best-practice references including the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the International Council on Mining and Metals' Position Statement on Mining and Indigenous Peoples, International Labor Organization Convention No. 169, the UN Global Compact, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), as well as the laws and regulations of the countries where Vale operates. 

These principles and international standards serve as a basis for guidelines established for Vale personnel who are responsible for engagement with Indigenous and Traditional Communities. They include a requirement to respect the unique characteristics and social and political organization of each community, and implement participatory processes that, to the extent possible, prioritize gender and generational equity and uphold the principles of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC). 
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We promote participatory processes that involve these communities in conducting impact assessments, proposing mitigating and offset measures, and developing business opportunities that support their rights. 

Our key guidelines are as follows: 

•    Build relationships based on trust, respect, and promoting Indigenous rights to culture, heritage, and Indigenous ways of life; 

•    Recognize tenure rights to land and water, as well as the intangible value that these natural resources hold for Indigenous Peoples;  

•    Promote and document consultation and free, prior, and informed consent processes related to Vale’s activities and community interests;  

•    Support ethnodevelopment among these populations; 

•    Effectively manage potential risks and impacts from Vale’s activities on Indigenous Lands; 

•    Respect and foster governance mechanisms that accommodate the unique social organization of each community and, to the extent possible, ensure gender and generational representation to enable the effective participation of these populations;  

•    Inform Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities about Vale’s channels for feedback, and respond to feedback received within the timeframes established in current regulations or agreements with communities. 
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Integration into internal processes 

Our relationship with Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities is addressed holistically in our governance processes. This includes efforts to enhance the quality of engagement with these stakeholders, provide training for both employees and contractors, and implement tools for advance planning, sustainable business management, and, most importantly, safeguarding the rights of these communities. 

In addition to risk and impact management procedures, a range of programs, initiatives, and voluntary agreements are also established to contribute to the ethnodevelopment of these communities. 
The teams dedicated to engagement with Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities have multidisciplinary backgrounds and expertise in the field. They are based within territories and are responsible for daily interaction with these communities, supporting our different departments, and documenting and addressing grievances.  

Communities also have access to other available channels as indicated in the Contact Us section of our website. 

Other significant areas of focus include training for employees and suppliers who interact with these communities in the areas where we have activities, and efforts to ensure community safety, which includes developing Integrated Community Safety Plans designed to prevent risks and document any incidents that need to be investigated and addressed in order to minimize impacts on stakeholders. (read more about our community safety initiatives). 
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Commitments and targets 

In 2022 — following the revision of our Indigenous engagement strategy and the launch of our Social Ambition for Indigenous Peoples, which aims to “Support all indigenous communities neighboring our operations in the development and execution of their plans and their pursuit of rights under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (UNDRIP)”—Vale implemented a range of enabling initiatives (including Consultation Protocols, Territorial and Environmental Management Plans (PGTAs, in portuguese) and/or Life Plans) for 11 Indigenous Peoples in Brazil and initiatives focused on benefit-sharing with 9 Indigenous Peoples in Canada.  

In Brazil, Vale has begun implementing this commitment with the Kayapó People by supporting the development of their Consultation Protocol, which is still ongoing. 

For more information on matters involving Vale and Indigenous Peoples, see the section Controversies. 

Learn more  

Building trust-based relationships 

Our history of engagement with Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities is based on building and sustaining trust and supporting the empowerment and resilience of these communities. Learn about the outcomes of some of our initiatives