The Social, Economic and Political Impacts of the Extractive Industries in Brazil

Led by Siri Aas Rustad

Jan 2015 – Dec 2016


The extractive industry (EI) has played a large part the growth of Brazil's economy in the past decade. While the country is now a large international exporter of oil, gas and minerals, the gains of this growth often fail to filter down to local communities hosting extractive companies.

Areas where extraction occurs often face familiar challenges where natural resources undermine social, economic political and institutional development. These communities often experience economic and social deterioration, increases of crime and violence, and severe environmental degradation. Furthermore, EI activity can often further weakened the capacity and legitimacy of political institutions; and local political and economic elites can marginalise civil society interests in the face of EI projects.

In building on PRIOs previous research on natural resource management, and emerging research agenda on the role of the private sector in peace and conflict processes, we explore the relationships between extractive industry businesses, local government institutions and civil society in the case in Barcarena municipality in the Northern Brazilian state of Pará, where the Norwegian Aluminium company Norsk Hydro has a strong presence.

We addresses two key questions: (1) What are the range of direct and indirect, economic, political, and social impacts on local communities in Barcarena, Brazil related to operations of the extractive industry; and (2) What kinds of opportunities and constraints does the EI face with respect to contributing to the sustainable development of the host community?

In answering these questions, the project applies both qualitative and quantitative methods – including surveys, randomized control trials and in-depth open ended interviews – to examine key challenges and opportunities, map stakeholder issues, triangulate findings, and identify actionable policy recommendations.

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