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Brazil court orders Vale to pay damages to indigenous tribes

SAO PAULO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - A Brazilian court has ordered Vale SA , Brazil's largest miner, to stop its nickel-extracting operations in the northern state of Pará and pay damages to two indigenous tribes that live in the area.

Vale, one of the country's biggest companies, will not be able to resume mining iron or nickel at its Onça Puma unit until it meets certain environmental requirements and presents plans aimed at mitigating and compensating indigenous peoples, Brazil's prosecutor-general's office said on Friday. The court decision was also on Friday.

Vale said it would appeal the decision.

According to the statement, the damages exceed 100 million reais ($26.6 million) and the court has ordered the company to pay a minimum wage to each indigenous person affected.

The mining unit accounts for some 10 percent of Vale's total nickel production. Vale is one of the world's largest producers of the metal.

"The decision ... does not bring anything new to a case that is still ongoing," Vale said in a statement. The company added that it had done studies that showed its operations were not harming the environment or indigenous peoples. ($1 = 3.7568 reais) (Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Marcelo Rochabrun; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)