CBA sustainable mining practices achieve international distinction
Companhia Brasileira de Alumínio (CBA) is one of the companies highlighted in the 2nd Edition of the Guide for Sustainable Bauxite Mining, published by the International Aluminum Institute (IAI), the global primary aluminum industry association. The company was recognized for its studies and practices in its bauxite mines in the “Zona da Mata” of Minas Gerais, and for two social programs developed in the region. CBA’s sustainable operations in the “Zona da Mata” go back 40 years, and helped the company achieve results and recognitions important for the industry in general. This is one of the reasons CBA continues developing initiatives and innovative partnerships in mining, such as the 20-year Environmental Education Program, its 13-year partnership with the Federal University in Viçosa (UFV), and its research and development of recovery technologies. Its actions have promoted direct improvements in the environment and productivity of small producers in the areas where the bauxite mines are located.. Area Recovery Bauxite mining in the “Zona da Mata” differs from other types of mining as it is occasional, surface, temporary, and progressive. In other words, it involves small areas for short periods.Mining and recovery are performed almost simultaneously, so the area involved can quickly return to its original productive and/or ecosystem activity, completing the recovery process and the socioeconomic impact. By recovering the mined areas, CBA returns them to farmers in the same or better condition so they may resume their farming activities, or reintegrate the area into the natural landscape following forest restoration. The methods and technologies used in all steps of the process have improved significantly since 2008, as a result of three lines of research with UFV: Environmental Rehabilitation (Soil), Forest Restoration, and Water Conservation (Forest Hydrology). From the start of this partnership, CBA has worked ceaselessly with the scientists at UFV to continuously develop its environmental processes. Scientific research and the technologies used by CBA – rehabilitation with agricultural crops or forests, or restoration by introducing native Atlantic Forest species, are essential to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), especially in the 2021-2030 period, declared by the UN as the “Decade for Ecosystem Restoration”. Also according to Christian, the outcome of this process includes a number of economic and environmental benefits for society, the scientific community, and the company. Studies and efforts in the mining area enable a better understanding of the impact and benefits for the environment. They also yield more accurate data to analyze and monitor environmental rehabilitation, directly benefiting not only the environment but also farmers, the company, and the population in general. Finally, this knowledge is locally disclosed, providing instructions on sustainable practices and maintenance. Thus, landowners may replicate the techniques investigated by CBA and UFV, developing their own environmental conscience, and allowing University scientists see witness the outcome of their research in a real production environment. Social Action In addition to its environmental initiatives, CBA was also recognized by the IAI Guide for two social projects in the “Zona da Mata”. For almost 15 years the company has supported the professional development of the seamstresses in Confisarp, the “Associação Intermunicipal de Confeccionistas de Santo Antônio do Rio Preto” [Santo Antônio Intercity Association of Seamstresses] located in Miraí, MG. CBA supports this institution with a number of partnerships and training and qualification activities, preparing the association to become sustainable and independent, as of early 2022. Professionalization increased the monthly income of the seamstresses by 60%. Another initiative worth mentioning is the Inclusion Project for Fruit Farmers in São Sebastião da Vargem Alegre, Pirapanema, and Guiricema, MG, focused on guiding and monitoring farmers, helping reinforce the crops of small farms in the regions with banana and grape crops This initiative included training, instructions, and follow-up with participating farmers. Until 2021, CBA funded a professional consultant from the industry. After the project ended, farmers retained the services of a specialized agronomist to pursue the cooperative effort. Banana crops have already benefited over 20 families in the rural area of the city. The initial target had been to plant 30 thousand banana trees between 2015 and 2017, increasing farmer monthly income by R$ 200.00. By the end of the CBA investment cycle 33 thousand trees had been planted, and farmer monthly income had increased by R$ 500.00. By late 2021, grapes were already directly benefiting some 25 families. Over 11,400 grape vines have been planed, a >250% increased compared to the start of the project in 2019, when 4,530 vines. In 2020 sales increased almost 75% compared to 2019, and were expected to further increase in 2021. Bananas and grapes are sold directly to consumers or regional markets in São Sebastião da Vargem Alegre and other nearby cities and towns. “The development of local communities is a key CBA commitment in its areas of influence. This is why it promotes technical knowledge and management best practices, enabling the population to sustainably and independently develop their businesses”, added Christian Andrade.