Brazil scraps bid to mine Amazon natural reserve

- Agence France-Presse, BRASÍLIA

Sep 27, 2017-

The Brazilian government backed off a controversial proposal to authorise private companies to mine a sprawling Amazon reserve Monday after blistering domestic and international criticism.

President Michel Temer’s office will issue a new decree Tuesday that “restores the conditions of the area, according to the document that instituted the reserve in 1984,” the Ministry of Mines and Energy said in a statement.

Last week, environmental activist group Greenpeace said at least 14 illegal mines and eight clandestine landing strips were already being used by miners in the Denmark-sized reserve known as Renca in the eastern Amazon.

Greenpeace said this showed the risks faced by Renca even without Temer’s earlier proposal for ending a ban on large-scale foreign mining in the mineral-rich region. Temer’s decree signed on August 25 on opening up Renca—rich in gold, manganese, iron and copper—was suspended days later after an international outcry.

The president had argued that lifting restrictions would allow Brazil to boost its struggling economy and also push the hugely destructive illegal mining operations out of business. In announcing the government was formally withdrawing the decree, the mining ministry insisted that the conditions that led to the measure in the first place were “still present.”

“The country needs to grow and generate jobs, attract investments for the mining sector, including to exploit the economic potential of the region,” it added. The rainforest has a wealth of valuable commodities but has been protected for decades from private industry and is home to several indigenous tribes.

Published: 27-09-2017 09:54

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