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Arayara Association of Education and Culture vs. Copelmi Mineração Ltda. and FEPAM (Guaíba Mine Project and hydrological risks)

Jurisdiction: Court of Justice of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (TJRS)


Principle law(s): Law 12.187/2009, establishing the National Policy on Climate Change (NPCC), regulated by Decree 7.390/2010


Side A: Arayara Association of Education and Culture (Ngo)


Side B: Copelmi Mineração Ltda. (Corporation)


Side B: FEPAM (Government)


Core objectives: Whether an open pit mine project impacts the balance of water resources and climate change.


Summary
This is a Public Civil Action (ACP), with a request for urgent provisional relief of a precautionary nature on an incidental basis, filed by the Arayara Association of Education and Culture against Copelmi Mineração Ltda., FEPAM and the National Water Agency (ANA), claiming that the Guaíba Mine Project will cause harmful impacts to the inhabitants of the metropolitan region of Porto Alegre, as a result of hydrological risks. The project is the largest open pit coal mine in Brazil, with a high potential for water pollution. The plaintiff points out flaws in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project, neglecting to comply with important permitting phases, such as holding public hearings in affected communities. The plaintiff claims that the project poses a risk of pollution, especially to the Jacuí River, which contributes with 86.3% of the average flow of Lake Guaíba, which is responsible for supplying drinking water to several municipalities. It highlights the need to analyze the extent of possible environmental damage resulting from the undertaking and the synergies with other infrastructures designed for the region. It also argues that the Guaíba Mine Project will impact the balance of water resources, which is inextricably linked to climate change, and thus mobilizes the National Policy on Climate Change – PNMC (Federal Law 12,187/2009). Therefore, actions such as pollution of springs, diversion of water courses, lowering of water tables, drainage of aquifers, among other harmful measures related to the Project, are directly or indirectly related to climate change. It is required, among other points, (i) as a preliminary injunction, the suspension of the permitting process for the Guaíba Mina Project until the judgment on the merits, so that the installation of the mine is prohibited and (ii), on the merits, the prohibition of the installation of the project in the originally planned location, in view of the irreversible environmental damages that it will cause to the region, in addition to the declaration of nullity of the environmental licensing procedure with the initiation of a new procedure that contemplates all the risks and the elaboration of an action plan for emergency, with a view to mitigating the consequences of possible environmental damage.

After the defendants' preliminary statements, a decision was rendered recognizing the passive illegitimacy of ANA and, consequently, the incompetence of the Federal Court to judge the action. Thus, the action was redistributed in the Court of Justice of the State of Rio Grande do Sul (TJRS).

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