Brazil opens vast Amazon reserve to mining

Brasilia
24 Aug 2017

The Brazilian government has abolished a vast national reserve in the Amazon rainforest to open up the area to mining despite strong opposition from environmental activists, the media reported on Thursday. President Michel Temer on Wednesday signed a decree which abolished the protected area known as the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca), reports the BBC. The area, covering 46,000 sq.km., comprises the northern states of Amapa and Para, and is thought to be rich in gold and other minerals. The decree said nine conservation and indigenous land areas within it would continue to be legally protected. "The objective of the measure is to attract new investments, generating wealth for the country and employment and income for society, always based on the precepts of sustainability," the ministry said in a statement.
Its size is larger than Denmark and about 30 per cent of it will be open to mining. But Maurício Voivodic, head of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Brazil, warned 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", the BBC reported. According to a 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 statement said that there was a potential for conflict too in two indigenous reserves that are home to various ethnic communities living in relative isolation. WWF`s report said than 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."