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Driving Destruction in the Amazon

Driving Destruction in the Amazon

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Published by Beatriz Tur
How steel production is throwing the forest into the furnace

Wood charcoal is burning up more than what’s for dinner at backyard barbeques. In Brazil- the world’s largest consumer of wood charcoal, almost all of the wood charcoal is used to process pig iron ( a key ingredient for steel). Turning iron ore dirt into steel requires massive amounts of energy, and for the rainforest in the northeastern Amazon, this energy has come at a heavy price. Wood charcoal made from the charred remnants of the rainforest is used to heat pig iron blast furnaces that provide raw material for the steel mills and cast iron foundries. Steel is found everywhere - cars, appliances, construction, and airplanes.

Two years of Greenpeace investigations, summarized in this report, reveal that end users including major global car manufacturers – indirectly or directly source pig iron whose production is fueled by forest destruction and slave labour in their supply chain. On notice for many years due to media and industry articles, these companies continue to disregard evidence that some of their suppliers are breaking Brazilian labour and environmental laws and wreaking havoc in the Amazon.
How steel production is throwing the forest into the furnace

Wood charcoal is burning up more than what’s for dinner at backyard barbeques. In Brazil- the world’s largest consumer of wood charcoal, almost all of the wood charcoal is used to process pig iron ( a key ingredient for steel). Turning iron ore dirt into steel requires massive amounts of energy, and for the rainforest in the northeastern Amazon, this energy has come at a heavy price. Wood charcoal made from the charred remnants of the rainforest is used to heat pig iron blast furnaces that provide raw material for the steel mills and cast iron foundries. Steel is found everywhere - cars, appliances, construction, and airplanes.

Two years of Greenpeace investigations, summarized in this report, reveal that end users including major global car manufacturers – indirectly or directly source pig iron whose production is fueled by forest destruction and slave labour in their supply chain. On notice for many years due to media and industry articles, these companies continue to disregard evidence that some of their suppliers are breaking Brazilian labour and environmental laws and wreaking havoc in the Amazon.

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Published by: Beatriz Tur on Jul 25, 2012
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greenpeace.org
May 2012
Driving Destructionin the Amazon
How steel production is throwingthe forest into the furnace
 
Driving Destruction in the Amazon
How steel production is throwing the forest into the furnace
3GreenpeaceInternationalDriving Destructionin the Amazon
How steel production isthrowing the forestinto the furnace
01
Section 01
Introduction
Wood charcoal is burning up more than what’sfor dinner at backyard barbeques. In Brazil- theworld’s largest consumer of wood charcoal,almost all of the wood charcoal is used toprocess pig iron ( a key ingredient for steel). Turning iron ore dirt into steel requires massiveamounts of energy, and for the rainforest in thenortheastern Amazon, this energy has comeat a heavy price. Wood charcoal made fromthe charred remnants of the rainforest is usedto heat pig iron blast furnaces that provide rawmaterial for the steel mills and cast iron foundries.Steel is found everywhere - cars, appliances,construction, and airplanes. Two years of Greenpeace investigations,summarized in this report, reveal that endusers including major global car manufacturers– indirectly or directly source pig iron whoseproduction is fueled by forest destruction andslave labour in their supply chain. On notice formany years due to media and industry articles,these companies continue to disregard evidencethat some of their suppliers are breaking Brazilianlabour and environmental laws and wreakinghavoc in the Amazon.
Few places in the Amazon have experienced as much forestdestruction as the Carajás region (made up of portions of Pará, Maranhão and Tocantins states). Like other sites of rainforest devastation in Brazil, most of the denuded landis today occupied by soy farms and cattle pastures. Whatmakes this region different, however, is the fact that loggingand charcoal production have served as principal driversof forest loss in the region. Over the years, thousands of remote charcoal camps, spread throughout the regionhave pillaged huge areas of natural rainforest to smoulderinto wood charcoal to fuel the blast furnaces of the region’sproduction of pig iron, a primary ingredient for steel. The world’s largest iron mine, under the control of Vale SA,the world’s second largest mining company, is centrallylocated in the region. Since the late 1980s, this iron oredeposit has attracted the development of 43 pig ironblast furnaces operated by 18 companies. These blastfurnaces - fuelled by charcoal - use substantial amountsof raw iron ore from this mine that is processed into pigiron. The Brazilian government has invested heavily inthe region’s pig iron, mining sector and infrastructurethrough the Programa Grande Carajás (“The Great CarajasProgramme”). Financing for this project came mostly fromthe World Bank, the European Economic Community(predecessor to the European Union) and the Japanesegovernment.
1
The pig iron industry and its charcoalsuppliers have brought severe negative impacts to theregion. Aside from intense forest destruction, the charcoalindustry has a notorious track record for slave labour.Furthermore, the rush to seize the forest for both timberand charcoal has fuelled violence and land conflicts. Almost all of the pig iron connected to the region’s devastationis exported to the US and used as a primary ingredient formaking steel or cast iron. Despite attention to the problemover the years, little has been done and household consumerproducts in the US can still be traced back to illegalities andforest destruction in the Amazon. Addressing these problemswill require action on behalf of both the Brazilian governmentand the American steel and cast iron industries and their majorconsumers, such as Ford, General Motors, BMW, Mercedes,Nissan, and John Deere.
Introduction
01 Introduction 0302 From forest to charcoal 0503 Devastating development in the north-eastern Amazon 1104 Amazon destruction in your garage 1905 Moving forward: proceed with caution! 2306 Conclusion and demands 27
Endnotes 28
 
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For more information contact:enquiries@greenpeace.org
Written by:
Greenpeace International
Front cover image
© Rodrigo Baléia / Greenpeace JN423Published by
Greenpeace International
Ottho Heldringstraat 51066 AZ Amsterdam The Netherlands Tel: +31 20 7182000
greenpeace.org
image
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2
Driving Destruction in the Amazon
How steel production is throwing the forest into the furnace
 
Driving Destruction in the Amazon
How steel production is throwing the forest into the furnace
54Driving Destructionin the Amazon
How steel production isthrowing the forestinto the furnace
GreenpeaceInternational4
Driving Destruction in the Amazon
How steel production is throwing the forest into the furnace
Section 02
From forest tocharcoal
Like something out of a film from a time longpast, dozens of smoky charcoal campsare spread throughout remote areas in thenortheastern Amazon. These camps smoulderrainforest into charcoal, which is then burnt tomake pig iron in industrial blast furnaces. Forestis cut and loaded into dozens of 2.5 metre-highbeehive-like ovens in these charcoal camps.Often illegal, these camps are built in a matterof days, located in difficult to access areas and,if shut down by authorities, frequently spring upagain in another location. They are built next towood sources, including illegally in protectedareas and indigenous lands.
2
Workers, often living in the camps and at times workingin conditions akin to slavery, stack the ovens with woodand set it alight to smoulder into charcoal for up to sevendays. The charcoal is then trucked to the region’s 43 blastfurnaces to act as fuel to convert raw iron ore into pig iron.Pig iron is a key ingredient in the production of steel andcast iron. Although mostly associated with barbecues, the vastmajority of charcoal goes into this energy intensiveprocess. In Brazil, 85% of wood charcoal is used for pigiron and steel production, only 9% is used for indoorheating, and 1.5% goes to pizzerias, bakeries andbarbecues.
3
The Brazilian government’s 2007 NationalPlan on Climate Change officially recognises pig iron as adriver of greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.
4
Fuelling pig iron production with charcoal
 The cost of the fuel makes up for approximately 33% to50% of the cost of the pig iron depending on the marketprice
5
, the pig iron blast furnaces draw upon the cheapestfuel possible. Charcoal camps in the region often relyon labour conditions akin to slavery or illegal wood tolower expenses and increase profit. Illegal wood providesan incredibly lucrative opportunity for charcoal makersbecause illegal material has been estimated to cost roughlyone-tenth of plantation-grown timber.
6
 
From forest tocharcoal
02
image
Illegal charcoalkilns in the municipality of  Tucuruí, Pará.
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