December 13, 2017

BRAZIL: Brazil Court Blocks Amazon Goverment Mining Decree; Brazil Declares It Won't Abolish Massive Reserve In The Amazon, After All

BBC News, UK
written by Staff
August 30, 2017

A Brazilian court has suspended a government decree that would open up a vast natural reserve in the Amazon to commercial mining.

The area covers 46,000 sq km (17,800 sq miles) and is thought to be rich in gold, manganese and other minerals.

On Monday, following widespread criticism, the government revised the decree, prohibiting mining in conservation or indigenous areas.

The latest decision follows an outcry from activists and celebrities.

The federal court in the capital Brasilia said in a statement it was suspending "possible administrative acts based on the decree" signed by President Michel Temer.

The Renca reserve in the eastern Amazon is home to indigenous tribes and large areas of untouched forest. Its size is larger than Denmark and about 30% of it was to be opened to mining.

Brazilian president Michael Temer says this would boost the country's economy.
But opposition Senator Randolfe Rodrigues denounced the move as "the biggest attack on the Amazon in the last 50 years".

Maurรญcio Voivodic, head of the conservation body WWF in Brazil, warned last month that mining in the area would lead to "demographic explosion, deforestation, the destruction of water resources, the loss of biodiversity and the creation of land conflict".

According to the WWF report, the main area of interest for copper and gold exploration is in one of the protected areas, the Biological Reserve of Maicuru.

There is also said to be gold in the Para State forest, which lies within the area.

The WWF says there is potential for conflict too in two indigenous reserves that are home to various ethnic communities living in relative isolation.

WWF's report said that a "gold rush in the region could create irreversible damage to these cultures".

"If the government insisted on opening up these areas for mining without discussing environmental safeguards it will have to deal with an international outcry."
NPR
written by Staff
September 26, 2017

Roughly a month after the Brazilian government said it would open a wide swath of Amazon rain forest to mining interests, it has backpedaled on that controversial decision. In a statement Monday, the country's Ministry of Mines and Energy said President Michel Temer would issue a new decree restoring the original conditions of the nature reserve.

Those conditions, established in 1984 under the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil at the time, protected more than 17,000 square miles of rain forest in northern Brazil — a copper-rich expanse larger than Denmark. The area, known as the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (RENCA), is home to several indigenous tribes and what are believed to be significant troves of gold, iron and other minerals.

In its decree last month abolishing that reserve, the Ministry of Mines and Energy argued that opening the area would enable the government to combat illegal mining operations and attract legal investment.

First, though, the decree attracted immediate criticism from activists and opposition politicians as "the biggest attack on the Amazon of the last 50 years."

"Not even the military dictatorship dared so much," Sen. Randolfe Rodrigues said, according to Brazilian newspaper O Globo. "I never imagined the government had such nerve."

Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bรผndchen‏ also stoked public indignation, accusing the government of "auctioning off our Amazon!"
Despite a revision limiting miners' access to the region, The Guardian reports, a federal Brazilian court suspended the decree shortly afterward, ruling that Temer had exceeded his authority.

The decision piled just one more legal woe on Temer, who earlier this month was slapped with his second set of charges as part of a massive corruption probe. He escaped the first set several months ago when lawmakers blocked the prosecution from proceeding while he remains in office.

Referring to Temer's reversal on the Amazon reserve, Greenpeace Brazil's Marcio Astrini hailed it as a sign that "there is no leader absolutely immune to public pressures."

"It is a victory of society over those who want to destroy and sell our forest," Astrini said. "Renca is just a battle. The war against the Amazon and its different peoples, promoted by Temer and big agribusiness, is still on."

In its statement Monday, the Ministry of Mines and Energy signaled that the decision to reinstitute the reserve wasn't the end of its push, either.

"The country needs to grow and generate jobs, attract investment to the mining sector, and even tap the economic potential of the region."

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