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By Michael Kepp
Brazil said it won’t act until at least the end of the year on plans to open a vast region of the Amazon to copper and gold mining, even if it prevails in a legal fight that had already blocked the mining.
The government of President Michel Temer Aug. 31 announced a 120-day delay in moving forward on its plan. Mines and Energy Minister Fernando Coelho Filho said the delay was to allow for public debate.
Temer had announced Aug. 22 he was lifting a 33-year-old mining ban in the National Reserve of Copper and Associated Minerals (RENCA), a pristine region of rainforest that spans a 17,930-square-mile expanse of the eastern Amazon in Amapa and Para states.
That announcement was met with outcry from environmental groups internationally and in Brazil, and on Aug. 29 a federal judge found that Temer exceeded his authority and ruled that lifting the ban on mining would require an act of Congress. Temer’s administration is appealing the ruling.
“The public debate the government is proposing is a sensible way to quiet the international outcry caused by allowing mining in RENCA,” lmer Prata Salomao, president of the advisory council of the Brazilian Association of Mining Research Companies (ABPM), whose members are major domestic and foreign private-sector mining companies, told Bloomberg BNA Sept 1. “But this doesn’t mean the government has changed its mind about mining in it.”
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