Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Community

Mining is an activity that is directly connected with the territory where mineral resources are available. For its realization, it is essential that the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities who live or use these territories for their traditional practices are respected. 

Vale's performance is guided by the management of risks and impacts of its operations on the territories and respect for cultural diversity and the rights of these populations, recognizing the differentiated relationship they have with the territory, which involves not only physical and socioeconomic aspects, but also cultural and spiritual ones.  ​

The relationship with these populations focuses on building and maintaining trust, supporting the autonomy and resilience of communities, contributing to mutual benefits and promoting a positive legacy with them.


Vale's relationship with Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities is guided by Vale's Global Human Rights Policy, which is aligned with the main international references related to the theme, such as the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, the Equator Principles, the Position of the International Mining and Metals Council on Mining and Indigenous Peoples, Convention No. 169 of the International Labor Organization, the UN Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative, IFC Performance Standard No. 07, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the laws provided for in the countries where Vale operates. ​

These international principles and standards are unfolded in guidelines that guide the work of professionals responsible for the relationship with these populations, such as the application of participatory methodologies (formation of community forums and/or committees) for the Free, Prior and Informed Consent and Consultation (FPIC) process.​
The guidelines for Vale's relationship with Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities are:​
  • Build a relationship of trust, respect and promotion of rights, cultures, heritage and ways of life;​
  • Recognize the right to the use of land and water, as well as the intangible value that these natural resources represent for Indigenous Peoples; ​
  • Promote and document the consultation process and Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) related to Vale's activities and the interests of communities;
  • Contribute to the promotion of ethnodevelopment of these populations;​
  • Efficiently manage the potential risks and impacts of the company's activities on the territories;​
  • Respect and foster governance mechanisms, respecting the specificity of the social organization of each community and ensuring, whenever possible, gender and generational representativeness that enables the effective participation of these populations;
  • Disclose to Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities all Vale's listening and response channels and properly manage the registered manifestations, according to deadlines established in the regulations in force and/or agreed with the communities.​
Internal references
Where we work

Vale relates to 28 groups of Indigenous Peoples and 47 Traditional Communities. In Brazil, where most of our activities are located, we relate to 13 groups of the following Indigenous Peoples:​

Pará: Gavião of the groups Parkatêjê, Kyikatêjê and Akrãtikatêjê; Xikrin do Cateté; and Kayapó​
Maranhão: Awá, Guajajara and Ka’apor​
Minas Gerais: Krenak, Pataxó and Pataxó Hã-hã-hãe​
Espírito Santo: Tupiniquim and Guarani​
47  Traditional Communities in Brazil, of which:​
30  quilombola communities in the states of Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro;​
03  groups of Artisanal Fishermen in the states of Pará and Rio de Janeiro;​
01  “Gypsy Community Calon de Santa Bárbara”, in Minas Gerais;​
13  groups of coconut breakers in the state of Maranhão.​
In Canada, where the operations are over 100 years old, Vale has a relationship with:
Newfoundland and Labrador: Innu Nation and Nunatsiavut Government
Sudbury: Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, Wahnapitae First Nation and Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation
Vale defined as one of its pillars of strategic planning, “expanding engagement in the indigenous agenda”, through specific actions focused on the registration and valuation of indigenous culture, strengthening and leading these populations and in sustainable programs.

Our Management and goals

Vale's Social Performance Model has as its central axis the management of risks and impacts on communities and the promotion of a positive legacy, with respect for Human Rights. 

See more about our Relationship with Local Communities.
In 2022, Vale revised its Indigenous Peoples Relationship Strategy and has guided mandatory, mitigating and voluntary actions with these populations, including environmental licensing processes and resolution of judicial issues in Brazil, as well as the implementation of the Social Ambition for Indigenous Peoples, which aims to “Support all indigenous communities neighboring Vale's operations in the preparation and execution of its plans in search of rights provided for in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).”  
Our commitment is to support, by 2030, the implementation of at least one structuring action, such as the Consultation Protocols, Territorial and Environmental Management Plans, Life Plans or Impact Benefit Agreements (IBA), for 11 Indigenous Peoples in Brazil and 9 in Canada.  
In Brazil, Vale began the implementation of this KPI with the Kayapó Indigenous People, through the support agreement in the preparation of its Consultation Protocol, which is still in progress. 
The company also clearly positioned itself on the withdrawal of all its mining processes in Indigenous Lands (TIs) in Brazil, reinforcing the understanding that mining can only be carried out with the Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of the indigenous people themselves.

See more about Mining Rights and Mining on Indigenous Lands here.
The teams responsible for conducting the relationship with Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities have multidisciplinary training and consistent experience in the subject, dedicated to acting in the territories and the permanent relationship with these populations.  
Communities also have access to the other available channels, as shown below.

See here the list of listening channels and answers provided by Vale

  • Community Relationship: It is possible to contact our Community Relationship professionals through 3 channels:  
    Face-to-face service, by calling 0800 285 7000 and 0800 021 9934 (for the hearing impaired) and via RC Online platform: 
  • Hello Railroad: 0800 285 7000 and 0800 021 9934 (for hearing impaired) 
  • Call Center Repair: 0800-0310831 
  • Contact us:
  • Reporting Channel: Contact through the website ( or by phone 0800 821 5000 (Brazil) and 1-844-450-5001 (Canada). 
In addition, Vale qualifies employees and suppliers who interface with these populations in the areas of influence of operations, in order to maintain consistency in negotiations in the various territories and qualified dialogue with these stakeholders. 
To support this relationship process with Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities, we use a management model that includes:
  • Studies and assessments of risks and impacts,
  • Programs and projects for impact management, 
  • Relationship management: listening, response and interaction mechanisms;
  • Risk Management;
  • Training programs;
  • Management of routine engagement with indigenous peoples and traditional communities;
  • Voluntary Social Investment.

Click here to better understand how we are developing our strategy and our environmental, social and governance commitments.

Get to know also our Vale Gaps ESG Action Plan and the actions that are already underway for community development.

KPI Report

The relationship with Indigenous Peoples is part of the main KPIs of the company, which include indicators associated with the process of repairing the rupture of the Córrego do Feijão dam in Brumadinho/Minas Gerais, the expansion of engagement with communities, the formalization of long-term agreements , the environmental licensing processes of strategic undertakings for the company and initiatives to support the ethno-development of these populations.

Risk Vision

After the breach of the Córrego do Feijão dam, in Minas Gerais (Brazil), many processes were revised and improved. These include risk management, with the formal inclusion of the topic in Vale's business risk map. This process will make it possible to improve preventive and mitigating controls associated with risks to Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities.

Goals and Deadlines

In 2020, the relationship process with Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities was standardized through an Internal Management Procedure for Brazil. As of 2021, the global standardization of the theme and other fronts such as:
  • Implement the global process of integrated management of the relationship with Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities;
  • Expand engagement with Indigenous Peoples and support for ethno-development actions;
  • Establish long-term agreements, with mutual benefits and respect for the specificities of Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities with which we relate;
  • Strengthen risk and impact management processes;
  • Expand the coverage of training programs for employees and contractors.

Perspectives and Legacy 

For the future, the main challenge of the company will be to contribute to the institutional strengthening and autonomy of the Indigenous Peoples and Traditional Communities with which Vale relates, diversifying investments from voluntary agreements, supporting initiatives of cultural recovery and valorization, preservation of memory and the protagonism of these populations. One of the examples of initiatives that make this contribution tangible is the relationship over 40 years with the Xikrin do Cateté Indigenous People.

40-year relationship

In 2022, Vale celebrated 40 years of relationship with the Xikrin do Cateté Indigenous People. The moment was also marked by the closing of a global agreement, which aimed to extinguish several Public Civil Actions that had been ongoing since 2007.  
To celebrate these 40 years, Vale's president, Eduardo Bartolomeo, and Xikrin do Cateté leaders celebrated on the Indigenous Land and at Vale's facilities in southeastern Pará, in June 2022. See about this celebration in the video Cataté Xikrin people and Vale.
The Xikrin do Cateté Indigenous Land area and the six Conservation Units that Vale helps protect in Southeast Pará form a massif of 1.2 million hectares of conserved forest, equivalent to nine times the city of São Paulo (Brazil).  
Among the main projects of the Xikrin do Cateté Community supported by Vale is the valorization and recovery of the memory and culture of the Indigenous People. Thus, the Xikrin do Cateté Memory Project was born, which has already yielded two books and the launch of a digital platform on the history of the Xikrin do Cateté Indigenous People, including a sound collection with songs, rituals and talks about everyday stories. The materials were selected by the Indigenous People themselves, from a vast collection of photos, drawings, objects and audios carefully recorded by anthropologists Lux Vidal and Isabelle Vidal Giannini over 30 years and donated by them to the University of São Paulo. 
The support for indigenous health is also the result of the long partnership of four decades between Vale and Xikrin do Cateté Indigenous People. In the last four years alone, more than 3,500 health services have been carried out in the various areas of medicine for the indigenous population at the Yutaka Takeda Hospital, in the Carajás Urban Center, maintained by the company. 
About the Xikrin do Cateté Indigenous People 
Vale’s history with the Xikrin do Cateté is related to the discovery of Carajás itself, by geologist Breno Augusto dos Santos, who, in 1967, after overflights through the Amazon, discovered the immense deposits. According to Breno, it was thanks to the Xikrin do Cateté that he and the pilot of the helicopter where he was staying managed to land safely in the mother village, after finding that in one of the clearings of the region, in Serra Arqueada, there was iron ore in large quantities. From there, research work began.  
The Xikrin do Cateté Community, as well as other Indigenous Peoples of Pará and Maranhão, managed to demarcate their lands from an agreement signed between Vale and National Foundation of Indigenous Peoples (Funai, in Portuguese) to comply with a condition imposed by the World Bank when granting financing for the implementation of the Carajás Project in the 1980. In charge of the actions to meet the condition of the World Bank was the architect and urban planner Maria de Lourdes Davies de Freitas, Lourdinha, appointed coordinator of the Environment of the then Companhia Vale do Rio Doce. 
“With the support of the Brazilian Anthropological Association (ABA, in Portuguese), and in agreement with Funai, Lourdinha and architects Vania Velloso and Katia Serejo Genes, began to visit the areas that would suffer the impact of the construction of the mine and the railroad (EFC), advised by several anthropologists, among them, anthropologist Yara Ferraz, from Funai, Lux Vidal and her daughter Isabelle Giannini, and by Antônio Carlos de Lima Venâncio, who came to replace Lourdinha later (...) and became the great coordinator of indigenous issues,” reports Maria de Lourdes in her memoir “Devotion of a Life”.  
With an area of 439 thousand hectares, the Xikrin do Rio Cateté Indigenous Land was declared in 1977 and ratified in December 1991. The Indigenous People gather about 1,600 people, divided into 14 villages.  
PIPOU - Indigenous Program of Permanence and Opportunities at the University ​
Promoted by Vale and the Society Population and Nature Institute (ISPN, in Portuguese), the Indigenous Permanence and Opportunities Program at the University (PIPOU, in Portuguese) aims, above all, to contribute to the autonomy and empowerment of Indigenous Peoples, through financial aid and a notebook, as well as pedagogical monitoring and extracurricular activities, such as reinforcement of disciplines in which eventually a student has difficulty and periodic debates with a collegiate formed by indigenous and non-indigenous experts, benefited students, as well as representatives of Vale and ISPN. ​
The program is in line with the objectives of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, especially in relation to article 14, which determines the right to access education without discrimination and to establish and control their educational systems and institutions, which offer education in their own languages, respecting their cultural methods of teaching and learning. ​
Currently, there are 100 students benefited with a scholarship of R$1,000/month to support their stay in Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). In this second edition, regardless of whether they have a relationship with Vale or not, students from more than 30 courses, 16 HEIs and 32 Peoples participate, distributed in 30 Indigenous Lands and other locations, in 12 states of the country. ​
The selection took into account the trajectory of life and the commitment of each one with the undergraduate course and with its people and territory. The duration of the scholarship is one year, and may be extended, upon proof of performance.​

Click here and see the photos of the project

Tradicional ktichen – Novo Planeta Village

Conversation House – Awá Village 

Model house

Cultural Center – Maçaranduba Village

Redario -Nova Samyã Village

Tradicional kitchen – Nova Samyã 

About the collegiate
It should be noted that the entire program is accompanied by a permanent collegiate formed by indigenous and non-indigenous experts who also provide support in the structuring of the program. The forum brings together professors from public universities, representatives of the indigenous student movement in Brazil and students from PIPOU, as well as representatives from ISPN and Vale.​
In Canada
In addition to specific actions, a macro strategy for the relationship with Canada's Indigenous Peoples was developed in 2022. It is an approach based on risk control, strengthening the reputation and guaranteeing the social license to operate, supporting Vale's Social Ambition and in line with the goals established for the company's social performance. The indigenous strategy also underpins the journey to “Truth and Reconciliation of Canada” with a structured action plan aimed at bringing Indigenous Peoples as business partners, through the long-term agreements (Impact Benefit Agreements - IBAs), as well as in building and maintaining the relationship of trust and transparency. The priority is to strengthen the capacities of indigenous people within the scope of sustainability actions for Basic Metals.

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