On November 5th, 2015 the Fundão dam holding more than 50 billion cubic meters of mining waste collapsed in Mariana, Minas Gerais. The dam belonged to the mining company Samarco, controlled by Vale and the anglo-australian BHP Billiton. The collapse was the biggest environmental tragedy in Brazil, and the biggest global tragedy in volume of mining waste leak, destroying entire villages and causing the death of the Doce River. The chemically contaminated mud travelled through the territory until arriving 16 days later at the coast of Espírito Santo, and finally draining into the ocean. Five years later, impacts remain unresolved. In January 2019, another dam, also in the state of Minas Gerais, ruptured.
The constant exhaustion of landscapes of extraction works for the sake of a few settler western white societies, shaped by exploitative international trade agreements. This is a project that unfolds over 500 years of exploitative empire and capitalism, and 500 years of Indigenous nations land theft and dispossession with the government consent.
A material chain takes part: the mining of iron ores becomes the steel beam that shapes the new skylines of Brazil's Iron economy pals. During the first seven months of 2019, China was responsible for 27,9% of Brazilian export, importing soy, petroleum and Iron ore; while the United States remains in second on the rank of extractivism imports, swallowing 13,4% of Brazilian exports - the main product is iron ore. If Architecture is part of an interwoven system with economy and politics, the extractivist logic and the commodification of land remains at its heart.
Even though mining and other extractivist activities work as global engines, hints of alternative may remain on understanding local and situated perspectives that sustain the exercise of autonomous archipelagoes and propose more than western, and more than human, spatial relations.