Canadian mining company Belo Sun, which intends to build the largest open-pit gold mine in Brazil in Volta Grande do Xingu, in the state of Pará, has suffered another defeat in the courts. The mining company’s environmental licensing was again suspended, this time by a decision of first instance by the Altamira Court. The decision refers to a Public-Interest Civil Action filed by the Public Defender’s Office of the state of Pará.

In the preliminary decision handed down on Tuesday, May 23, Judge Antônio Fernando de Carvalho Vilar ruled for the “suspension of the effects of environmental licensing No. 2012/5028 and 2015/5340, of the company Belo Sun Mineração Ltda., filed in the State Secretariat for the Environment and Sustainability (SEMAS), until a socioenvironmental study of the riverside peoples is carried out, at a minimum distance of 10 km from the project, on both banks of the Xingu River, as well as prior, free and informed consultation and consent of riverside peoples is carried out, by the State of Pará, as provided for in article 6 of Convention No. 169 of the International Labor Organization (ILO).”

Also according to Vilar, the prior consultation “must present itself as a permanent channel for dialog with the traditional populations affected by large projects such as the one in this case,” and must be “broad and based on good faith, allowing those affected to consent or not to the implementation of the project, to be present in the decision-making processes, and that their opinions and interests are taken into account by state officers.”

This is the second lawsuit currently suspending Belo Sun’s environmental licensing. On April 25, the Federal Appellate Court of the First Region (TRF-1) upheld the decision, taken in 2017 in a Public-Interest Civil Action filed by the Federal Prosecution Office, to suspend the installation license until the company presented the impact studies on Indigenous peoples, and that free, prior and informed consultation be carried out in accordance with a Consultation Protocol prepared by the Juruna Indigenous people of the Paquiçamba Indigenous Territory.