Brazil aims to open indigenous reserves to mining – Minister

Date: Mar 12, 2019

The government of Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro is preparing an overhaul of mining sector regulations that will include opening up indigenous reserves to mining, the country’s mines and energy minister said.

Mining in indigenous reserves is currently prohibited.

Minister Bento Albuquerque said Brazil plans to overhaul mining rules to prevent future disasters such as the dam bursting at a Vale facility in January that killed hundreds and also allow for more economic growth in the sector, including of mineral exports.

“That legislative effort shall also include the regulation of the use of indigenous and other areas according to what the Brazilian federal constitution states,” Albuquerque said at an event in Washington, D.C. A video of the remarks were posted late on Thursday.

Brazil’s 1988 constitution states that mining can only be conducted in indigenous areas under rules approved by the country’s Congress that ensure the indigenous communities affected benefit.

But Congress never established such rules, effectively prohibiting mining in indigenous areas until such a law is passed. Albuquerque did not elaborate on efforts to open indigenous areas to mining.

Environmentalists and non-government organizations say that the indigenous are the best defenders of natural habitats and fear that Bolsonaro’s promise to bring economic development to reservations could drive environmental destruction.

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