Pig Iron is an independent publication that has been made possible by the precious support of friends, students, photography enthusiasts and a number of associations.
Pig Iron aims to demonstrate that a new kind of social photography is possible – a photography that can make an active contribution in terms of fighting against situations of injustice, that can be used not just as a means of raising awareness and providing information, but also as a way of engaging people and encouraging participation with a view to achieving concrete action. Accordingly, part of the proceeds from the sale of this book will support a project aiming to build a performing arts research and communications center that will be run by young people from Açailândia in northeast Brazil and to support the campaign Justicia nos trilhos.
Photos by: Giulio Di Meo
Text by: Dario Bossi and Francesco Gesualdi
Format: 297 mm x 210 mm
Paper: matte coated 170 grams
Cover: matte coated opaque plastic hardcover 150 grams
Book jacket: matte coated paper 150 grams
“Pig Iron” is the ﬁrst step in the processing of iron ore.
Making pig iron is a dirty business, which is presumably why we in the western world prefer to have it done elsewhere and for it to arrive on our shores nice and clean.
Founded as a small mineral extraction company in 1911, Vale is today a global colossus, with a turnover of 59 billion US dollars, mines in Australia, Mozambique, Canada and Indonesia, and metalworking plants in North America and Europe. The mainstay of its production activities remains, however, the extraction in Brazil of iron ore – of which it is the world’s second biggest producer. To transport the iron ore from the mines situated in Parà to the port of São Luis in the Maranhão, Vale has constructed a railway almost 1000km long, along which the 400 carriages of the world’s longest train each year carries piles of iron-rich mineral ore, won from the bowels of the earth in one of the biggest open pit mines ever excavated. Vale is making massive profits from the export of more than 100 million tonnes of ore every year, bleeding dry the “open veins of Latin America”  to supply a Chinese market experiencing dizzying growth. The plundering of the country’s mineral wealth in search of the ore used to produce pig iron, which represents the ﬁrst step in the steel production process, is having a violent and indelible impact on the states of Parà and Maranhão, which are among the country’s poorest, with effects including the devastation of forests, pollution, the use of slave labour, the death of people and animals hit by passing trains, the expulsion of entire families and communities to make room for new mines or to expand the railway and increase profits. All that is left for the victims of this economy of enclaves, where trains transporting 60 million dollars a day’s worth of ore thunder by, past huts in which people live on less than 300 dollars a month, is numbing, paralyzing poverty and hopeless tomorrows. The real price of iron  is not a question of market logic but instead is heavy with the stories and the closed down, sold out futures of vast numbers of people and huge swathes of Brazilian territory.
 The expression belongs to Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano and is the title of one of his books.
 The book by Francesco Gesualdi e Dario Bossi, “Il prezzo del ferro”, EMI 2011.