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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – After receiving heavy criticism from both Brazilian society and the international community, Brazil’s government announced on Monday it was repealing a decree which would have allowed for the exploration of a reserve, rich in minerals, in the Amazon region.

Brazil, Amazon,Brazil's Amazon forest is rich in minerals and biodiversity
Brazil’s Amazon forest is rich in minerals and biodiversity, photo by Neil Palmer/CIAT/Flickr

“The MME (Mines and Energy Ministry) reaffirms its commitment and of the entire government to the preservation of the environment, with the safeguards foreseen in the legislation of protection and environmental preservation,” stated the note released by the government, adding however that the debate surrounding the exploration of the area ‘should be resumed in another opportunity’.

The decree, signed by President Michel Temer at the end of August would allow for the mining exploration of the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (RENCA), a 47,000 square kilometer reserve located in the states of Amapá and Pará and believed to hold record deposits of copper, gold, manganese, and iron.

At the time officials said that the lifting of restrictions in the area would attract new investments, creating employment in the region. However, after a wave of criticism from environmentalists and international entities made headlines in papers around the world and a court order to suspend the command, the government felt obliged to revise the original decree.

“It was understood by most of society that we were loosening the rules against Amazon deforestation, that we would be abandoning the Amazon, and that does not correspond to reality,” said Environment Minister Sarney Filho at the time.

Nonetheless the MME said that reasons that led officials to call for the original decision are still present and the government will continue to look for a solution which would appease both sides of the controversy. “The country needs to grow and generate jobs, attract investments to the mineral sector, including to exploit the economic potential of the region,” concludes the note issued by the MME.

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