International Day for Indigenous Peoples – Learn About Vale's Relationship with these Communities and the Challenges Encountered During the Pandemic

About Vale


International Day for Indigenous Peoples – Learn About Vale's Relationship with these Communities and the Challenges Encountered During the Pandemic

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There are approximately 800,000 indigenous peoples speaking distinct 274 languages in Brazil. Vale values such diversity and currently interacts with several indigenous communities (14 in Brazil and other communities in countries like Canada, Peru and New Caledonia). In Brazil, this work is done by a team of more than 20 professionals who are specialized and experienced in the subject, with support from indigenous and anthropology consulting firms. Most of these professionals live in regions close to indigenous lands, which facilitates permanent contact and dialogue with the communities. In addition, Vale trains employees, suppliers and partners that interact with these peoples to act according with the company’s guidelines.

“We believe that the economic development brought about by mining can be balanced with respect to these peoples’ social and cultural specificities, ways of living and their special relationship with the land. So, our challenge is to build trusted partnerships with these populations through active listening, responsible management of our impacts and by contributing to their ethnodevelopment,” explained Thais Pereira, manager of Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities Relations at Vale.

In its Global Human Rights Policy, Vale adheres to the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM)’s Position Statement on Indigenous People and Mining and undertakes to comply with specific applicable laws and the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169.

How we operate during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Most of our interaction with these communities occurs through our professionals in visits, work meetings, monitoring of projects and programs and management of requests (requests, complaints, among others). Despite the practice of social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Vale has made several efforts to keep our relationships strong by being participative and developing new ways of interacting remotely with the communities.

For this purpose, within the Institutional Strengthening Programs and the Productive Activities that are part of the Basic Environmental Plans for the Indigenous and Quilombo Communities of the Vitoria-Minas and Carajás Railroads, Vale created the “knowledge Pills” initiative together with the Tupiniquim and Guarani communities, which consist of submitting video and animated content to its production chain via WhatsApp messages, once a week, including a request that the exercise featured on the pill be responded within the following week. This methodology allowed us to continue monitoring projects, providing training, and maintaining the dialogue with nine communities via Internet.

We also submitted informative videos on the need to wear masks and keep the hands clean to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The company supported initiatives within the public health policy and made significant donations to government institutions responsible for indigenous health services. Donations included cleaning items, hospital supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals working in the villages, and set up of temporary quarantine facilities to support the assistance for the population in indigenous lands.

On March 16, Vale announced that the Voisey’s Bay mine in Canada would undergo "care and maintenance" for four weeks due to its remote location, in an effort to protect the health of the Nunatsiavut and Innu indigenous communities in Labrador amid the pandemic. Furthermore, Vale Canada has also implemented a northern employment strategy and is leading a series of initiatives to engage indigenous communities and integrate isolated communities into the labor market. In northern Manitoba, more than 250 employees from 15 local communities have joined the company’s workforce. In addition, indigenous companies account for almost 80% of commercial contracts that support Vale’s operations at the Voisey’s Bay mine.

Understand the Meaning of “Indigenous Peoples” and “Traditional Communities”

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Indigenous peoples are groups of people with social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. They are described as indigenous because they descend from the original or earliest known inhabitants of an area, in contrast to groups that have settled, colonized or occupied the area more recently. Traditional communities, on the other hand, mean a grouping of people that generally recognize as having a separate culture, with their own organized social structure, who occupy and use the land and its natural resources as a condition for their cultural, social, religious, ancestral and economic reproduction. and use knowledge and practices transmitted by tradition. These include quilombo communities, artisanal fishermen and coconut breakers – groups with whom Vale interacts a lot.

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August 9th – International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

On December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples shall be observed on 9 August every year. It marks the day of the inaugural session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations at the United Nations in 1982. According to the UN, the date seeks to reaffirm the human rights guaranteed to all these individuals, which belong to 5,000 different ethnic groups in over 90 countries

Difference makes all the difference

International Day for Indigenous Peoples – Learn About Vale's Relationship with these Communities and the Challenges Encountered During the Pandemic