The mining company Mineração Rio do Norte (MRN) in Trombetas, Pará has an annual production capacity of 18 million metric tonnes of bauxite and has nearly 1,300 permanent employees. The bauxite is transported by barge to the Alunorte refinery in Barcarena.
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MRN started production in 1979. The mine is within the borders of the national forest of Saracá-Taquera which is a part of the Amazon rain forest. Before starting extraction of bauxite, the existing vegetation is cleared. Any clearance must be subject to approval from the federal environment authorities ICMbio. Reforestation starts as soon as a mining area is closed and was initiated at MRN in 1984.
The company owns the mining rights to in total 25,000 hectares, of which 7,000 are so far affected. Between 1979 and 2011, 4,460 hectares were reforested and 8.8 million seedlings planted. The oldest areas have reached a profile reminiscent of the original state.
Still, many more years are needed to reach a level that is fully sustainable. In February 2011 beehives were installed in the reforested areas older than 10 years in order to help accelerate the revegetation process. In addition to increased pollination, the beehives give an extra income to surrounding communities of traditional Amazon peoples. Also collection of seeds from local species and planting of the seedlings are sources of income for local communities.
The areas are thoroughly surveyed. Since 1997 about 50 Master’s theses and 25 PhD theses have studied the flora and fauna in the reforested areas.
MRN has in total used 450 different plant species in the rehabilitation programme. Today, around 120 different species are commonly used, including epiphytes like bromeliads and orchids.
The collected epiphytes are taken to MRN´s tree nursery, where they are classified and cultivated. Since 2001, more than 63 thousand epiphytes of 123 species have been collected: 83 species of orchids, 16 species of bromeliads and 24 species of Araceae. Years later, these epiphytes are reintroduced in the replanted forests taking into consideration the species of the tree from which it was removed.