By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Mines and Energy Minister Bento Albuquerque said the government is considering allowing mining activity in restricted areas such as indigenous lands and Brazil’s border areas, currently restricted to economic activities.
“The restrictions applied to these areas have not favored their development. On the contrary, they have become the focus of conflicts and illegal activities that contribute nothing to their sustainable development and to national sovereignty and security,” argued Albuquerque during Brazilian Mining Day in Toronto, Canada, on Monday.
Albuquerque however said the process of opening up land for mining will be conducted after ‘consultations with all relevant actors, such as indigenous peoples, organized society, environmental agencies and, above all, the National Congress’.
According to the minister, the government is also discussing opening research activity related to nuclear minerals to private companies. Currently, the research, exploration and production of these minerals, such as uranium, is restricted to the state-owned company, INB (Nuclear Industries of Brazil).
“We also intend to review and evaluate an alteration of the legal framework of the nuclear sector, with the objective of making research and development of nuclear ore more flexible, as well as creating the conditions for private investment to develop the sector,” said Albuquerque.
In his speech to the Canadian audience, Albuquerque said that thousands of mining processes should be auctioned in the very near future.
“The auctions will follow a more rapid, objective and transparent system,” said the Minister.
Albuquerque also pointed out that with authorizations and privatizations of mining activity, the Brazilian mineral sector may exceed the current twenty-one percent share of Brazilian exports.
Nonetheless, the Minister reiterated the current administration’s commitment to the sustainable development of mining, based on good social and environmental practices.