The perpetuation of the semicolonial mining: BRASIL, A COUNTRY PLUNDERED BY THE MONOPOLIES

Infográfico Mostra Principais Mineradoras Atuantes em Território Nacional e Suas Respectivas Ligações Com os Monopólios Imperialistas
Infográfico Mostra Principais Mineradoras Atuantes em Território Nacional e Suas Respectivas Ligações Com os Monopólios Imperialistas

The perpetuation of the semicolonial mining: BRASIL, A COUNTRY PLUNDERED BY THE MONOPOLIES

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The mining activity that has been carried out by big monopolies with billionaire annual profits and has generated last years at least two big crimes against the masses – Mariana and Brumadinho – is everytime more important for the local bureaucratic capitalism  and the rapine of the imperialist powers.  

The apologists of these mining companies, trying to defend the impunity for the mining enterprises who promote crimes as stated above, affirm that they are fundamental for the “growth” and “prosperity” of the Nation. The reality, however, is that this activity has been monopolized by a handful of huge banks, big bourgeois and large transnational companies. Furtehrmore, what has been extracted in our soil is sold at low added value in benefit of the foreign powers. This is essencially the semicolonial condition of our economy. To the Brazilian workers remains the mud, the residues and the evils as a result of the crimes against the homeland. 

Transnational companies plunder Brasil 

Mining industry has grown absurdly from the PT government onwards, operating, in 2011, 53 billion dollars, an enormous increase if compared to 2004, when it did not reach 10 billion, according to the Instituto Brasileiro de Mineração (Ibram) (Mining Brazilian Institute). At least 68% of the mineral export are iron mineral, operating 19,2 billion dollars in 2017. Nowadays it tends to grow still more.  

Among the largest mining companies in our country we name: Vale ( revenues, in 2018, of 36,575 billion dollars), Samarco ( R$ billion in revenues and billion only in 2014), Companhia Brasileira de Metalurgia e Mineração – CBMM ( billed R$7,42 billion in 2018), Hydro Alunorte (in 2015 reached a net revenue of R$5,7 billion) and Magnesita ( net revenue, 2016, 852,3 million dollars) among others. 

Despite the names apparently Brazilian of some of them, one can quickly see who are the beneficiaries of such  predatory activities.  

Vale, by far the largest monopoly – whose profit has grown 32% in 2017 -, has 45,2% of the shareholders named as “foreign investors”. 

Samarco, another example, is a joint-stock company controlled by the Anglo-australian BHP Billiton and by Vale, each one with 50% of the shares. BHP Billiton, in turn, has its headquarters in Australia and it is a stock-company controlled predominantly by two financial monopolies. The first one is the Fisher Asset Management (whose main owner is the Santander Bank) and the second is Arrowstreet Capital – Limited Partnership, controlled mainly by Ford Motor Co., by IntelCorp., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Yamana Gold, Bank of America, among other financial monopolies. 

CBMM, the monopoly that dominates the niobium production and marketing has as the main shareholder the Moreira Salles Group. One of the family members, Pedro Moreira Salles, is the president of the Administration Council of Itau Bank, Other minor CBMM shareholders are the Asian monopolies Baosteel Group Corp. (Chinese social-imperialism) and Nippon Steel & Sumitono Metal Corp (Japonese imperialism). 

The Hydro Alunorte, apparently a local one, is a subsidiary of Norsk Hydro, a monopoly of the Norwegian imperialism in the aluminium. At least 34,3% of the Norsk Hydro are controlled by the Norwegian imperialism and, therefore, it is the government the main controller of the mining company that operates in Brasil. 

Magnesita S.A monopoly is mostly controlled by the GP Investments, However, the financial group is controlled by the foreign monopoly Partners Holding Inc., that grabs most of the revenues. 

To get an idea of how much our mineral resources have been stolen, it is sufficient to note that, in 2013, according to the Inter-union Department  of Statistics and Socio-economic Studies (Dieese) (2), mining – with the agriculture and cattle raising – has been the sector leader in the increase of transfer of profits and dividends abroad, reaching the peak of 141%, with regard to 2006. 

Subordinate production chain  

As if this domination relationship were not enough, in which mega international monopolies seize despicably of the natural resources – dominating and sucking the country with their tentacles –, we still have an absolute subordinate relationship with the imperialist countries industries. 

The mining extraction and export for the monopolies that will produce high technology merchandise maintain us lagging behind. By not industrializing the ores and dispensing with the task to develop a manufacturing industry of high added value, the ores are simply exported at a low value to the imperialist countries which use them to develop merchandise of high added value and high technology which are again exported to our dominated countries. 

According to the geologist, Pedro Jacobi, “ when we export raw ore without added value we are reposting all the profit of the production chain to the purchasing country that will transform the iron ore into pig iron, steel and then into industrialized products that will come back to Brasil with simply enormous comprised profits.” He continues: “ Profits, of course, that we actually are not earning. All in all, this is a good definition of an underdeveloped country”.  

The geologist exemplifies: “ For building a medium car with 1000kg of steel, 1.6 tons of iron ore concentrate will be necessary. This concentrate, after extraction, processing and transport will be sold in a Brazilian harbour by only R$320 a ton! The imported vehicule will arrive at the same harbour with a price a hundred times higher. Our raw iron ore is the backbone of a twice billionaire of which we participate in a little”. 

A little more about domination 

CBMM does not export raw niobium but with a certain processing, in general, as an iron-niobium, which value is not much. Brasil has 96% of the niobium reserves; however exports them at a very low price if compared to its importance for the industry of high technology. 

The largest purchasers of beneffited niobium produced in Brasil, in 2016, have been Holland (28,7% of the total), China (25,9%), Cingapura (14,9%) and USA (11,9%). Niobium is fundamental to produce pipes to transport oil and gas to the nuclear industry, for the manufacturing of superalloys essential to produce air jet engine components and sub-assemblies of rockets, among other things. Finally, it is a fundamental raw-material to produce merchandises of very high added value. 

Holland that buys the Brazilian niobium, in turn, has its industry concentrated in producing capital assets ( merchandises that serve as a mean of production, therefore, of very high added value as the agroindustry, production of metals and engineering, machines, microeletric,etc.) which are dependent on niobium. Through this relation, Holland – as every imperialist  power –  enriches e develops itself as a nation of a solid economy while Brasil, as any other semicoloniasl country, lags behind. 

This is together with the land question, a historically unsolved matter. The government in power have compulsorily take turns in reproducing those relations; they cannot change them without destroying completely the economic, political system and the State bureaucracy enclosed to them, replace them for new ones, supporting themselves in the masses and completely trusting them. In brief, the Revolution of New Democracy.# 


  1. Shareholder composition available on October 31st, 2019, in Vale site. 
  1. Available data in the study Transfer of Profits and Revenues: sectors and the Brazilian economic dynamics, June 2014. 

Iron ore: how much does Brasil lose by exporting products without added value? In Portal do Geólogo, January 17th , 2013.# 

Ao longo das últimas duas décadas, o jornal A Nova Democracia tem se sustentado nos leitores operários, camponeses, estudantes e na intelectualidade progressista. Assim tem mantido inalterada sua linha editorial radicalmente antagônica à imprensa reacionária e vendida aos interesses das classes dominantes e do imperialismo.
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