‘The decree is the biggest attack on the Amazon in the past 50 years,’ an opposition senator said. The reserve is said to be home to a massive gold deposit
Brazil’s government has opened a massive national reserve to vast commercial mining in a move critics dubbed the “biggest attack on the Amazon in the past 50 years.”
A decree from President Michel Temer published Wednesday announced that the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (RENCA) would immediately be abolished so that the area, thought to be rich in gold, could be explored. The reserve has been protected since 1984 and covers 47,000 square kilometres — nearly the size of the province of Nova Scotia. About one-third of the reserve will be opened to miners.
The move, proposed by the country’s mining and energy ministry in March, comes as the country has been struggling to escape a crushing economic crisis that has seen unemployment rise above 12 per cent. In a statement to Brazilian newspaper O Globo, mining and energy minister Fernando Coelho Filho suggested the move could help drag the country out of recession.
“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,” Filho said.
There is no information regarding the value of the gold and other minerals — tantalum, iron ore, nickel and manganese — within the reserve, but the ministry has said it believes an “unparalleled” world project can be forged in the area.
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