July 11, 2013 / 6:21 PM / 5 years ago

Brazil Indians end blockade of iron ore miner Vale's railway

SAO PAULO, July 11 (Reuters) - Brazilian Indians seeking better public services have stopped blocking a key railway carrying iron ore from global miner Vale’s giant Carajas mine to port, the company said on Thursday.

Vale did not say how much iron ore had been held up by the blockage that started and ended on Wednesday. The railway, known as EFC, carries close to 100 million tonnes of iron ore a year, or nearly 10 percent of the world’s 1 billion tonnes of seaborne exports.

The line connects the Carajas mining complex in Brazil’s Amazonian state of Pará with the Port of Ponta da Madeira near São Luis, the Atlantic port capital of Maranhão state on Brazil’s northeast coast.

The railway moves one-third of Vale’s iron ore output of about 300 million tonnes a year and is being expanded along with Carajas to make up for declining output in Brazil’s central highlands.

COAPIMA, an organization representing indigenous groups in Maranhão, said various tribes were demonstrating in the area to demand better services, including health care, on their reservations.

Brazil, which has set about 13 percent of its territory for Indians, is struggling to defuse a series of conflicts with natives over farmland, proposed hydroelectric dams and mines.

President Dilma Rousseff, who will likely run for re-election next year, has tried to prevent more violence since two Terena Indians were killed when police evicted members of the tribe from a former congressman’s cattle ranch last month.

Indians were generally not involved in massive protests that rocked cities across Brazil in late June and focused on a range of urban grievances from government corruption to inadequate public transportation and hospitals.

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