Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Alison Buck


Alfredo Ortiz


Sandra Guzman Foster


Granite quarrying constitutes an occupational hazard that compromises workers’ health, destroys the environment and negatively affects nearby communities (Azevedo et al., 2020; Ibrahim et al., 2019; Oktriani, Darmajanti, & Soesilo, 2017; Shaik et al., 2015). But the demand for granite and other decorative stones continues to grow (Gupta, 2018). Despite a decrease in imports/exports due to Covid-19 (Alves et al., 2020), today Brazil remains the number 1 granite exporter to the United States (US Geological Survey, 2021). In the last 30 years, the extraction of granite in Brazil has been continuous, particularly in the states of Espírito Santo (ES) and Minas Gerais (MG). In the Northeast of MG, granite extraction comes from an impoverished rural area heavily affected by drought. The São Pedro River Valley is part of this rural area known as Sertão. Environmentally, over the last decades, studies revealed factors that have severely altered and compromised this unique and fragile biome called Caatinga (Quintão et al., 2017). Despite patent land destruction, water contamination and scarcity, coupled with rural communities’ distress, the effects of granite extraction in the São Pedro River Valley remain scientifically unknown. This case study addressed this research gap. Qualitative data originated from rural communities’ testimonies. Participants were subsistence farmers whose livelihoods directly depended on local natural resources. The data emanated from content-based unstructured focus groups comprising 25 individuals. Data analysis consisted of Freire’s pedagogical approach and In Vivo coding. Qualitative data was cross-referenced with a geological report consisting of a soil analysis and interpretation. This study also gathered insights from a local Research Associate (RA), recent images and video recordings of the area. To preserve the authenticity and integrity of participants’ unique environment and circumvent limitations set by the current worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, the data collection was conducted remotely. This case study provided an in-depth understanding of an economic activity that compromises the sustainability and equitability of the human-environmental balance in the São Pedro River Valley.