Brazil abandons controversial bid to mine Amazon natural reserve after vehement criticism from conservationists (South China Morning Post – September 26, 2017)

Agence France-Presse – The Brazilian government backed off a controversial proposal to authorise private companies to mine a sprawling Amazon reserve Monday after blistering domestic and international criticism.

President Michel Temer’s office will issue a new decree on Tuesday that “restores the conditions of the area, according to the document that instituted the reserve in 1984”, the Ministry of Mines and Energy said in a statement.

Last week, environmental activist group Greenpeace said at least 14 illegal mines and eight clandestine landing strips were already being used by miners in the Denmark-sized reserve known as Renca in the eastern Amazon.

Greenpeace said this showed the risks faced by Renca even without Temer’s earlier proposal for ending a ban on large-scale foreign mining in the mineral-rich region.Temer’s decree signed on August 25 on opening up Renca – rich in gold, manganese, iron and copper – was suspended days later after an international outcry.

The president had argued that lifting restrictions would allow Brazil to boost its struggling economy and also push the hugely destructive illegal mining operations out of business.

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