Large mining companies operating in Brazil questioned the bill promoted by President Jair Bolsonaro and his allies in Congress to legalize mining on indigenous lands and called for a broader debate on the text.
The Brazilian Mining Institute (IBRAM)whose 120 associates are responsible for 85% of mining production in Brazil, stated in a statement that the text “it is not apropiate” to regulate mining in the reserves and asked that this issue “is widely debated by Brazilian society, especially by the indigenous people themselves, respecting their constitutional rights, and by the Brazilian Parliament”.
The IBRAM statement, which encompasses giants such as the Brazilian Voucherthe Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto or the British Anglo-Americancomes a week after Bolsonaro’s allies approved accelerating the processing of the text in order to be able to exploit potassium reserves as soon as possible and alleviate possible problems importing fertilizers from Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine.
The urgent procedure means that the bill, stalled in the Camera from 2020, it will be voted directly in the Plenary, in the first fortnight of April, without having to go through the commissions. If approved, it will be reviewed by the Senate.
IBRAM stressed that “Industrial mining can be made viable in any part of the Brazilian territory”respecting the conditions for “preserve life and the environment, especially in the Amazon, avoiding deforestation”and condemned illegal mining in the reserves.
The text is one of the controversial projects that last week motivated a mobilization of several thousand people in front of the Congress in Brasilia led by the famous musician Caetano Veloso to protest against Bolsonaro’s environmental policy.
Critics say the government is using the war in Ukraine as an excuse to move forward with the project, which is part of its campaign promise to allow extractive activities in the Amazon, especially in the rich indigenous reserves.
In addition, they point out that the majority of potassium reserves are found outside these lands.
world agricultural power, Brazil imports more than 80% of the fertilizers it uses, and 96% in the case of potassium (an input for many of these products), according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture. More than 20% of the fertilizers it imports come from Russia, its main supplier.
At the end of February, a report from the NGO Amazon Watch and the Association of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil accused several of these mining companies, including the three aforementioned giants, of seeking to expand into indigenous lands in the Amazon, supported by international banks. Anglo American and Vale have denied the accusations.
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