A Brazilian appeals court has upheld the suspension of a key licence for Toronto-based Belo Sun Mining Corp., which hopes to build Brazil’s largest open-pit gold mine in the Amazon forest.
The decision sets the project back at least a year, and in their ruling, the three-judge tribunal blasted the company for failing to consult Indigenous people sufficiently.
The precedent-setting ruling serves to shore up the rights of Brazil’s First Nations, rights which are, in principle, constitutionally protected, but in practice often ignored in the development of infrastructure and commercial projects. It comes at a time when the political climate strongly favours the mining industry.
The decision, delivered on Dec. 6 by the Federal Tribunal of the First Region, in Brasilia, upholds an April suspension order for the company’s installation licence.
The tribunal said that Belo Sun had failed to fulfill obligations, repeatedly made clear after previous court challenges, to study the impact of their planned 175,443-hectare open-pit mine on the Juruna people, who live approximately 10 kilometres downriver from the site of the Volta Grande project, and must do so according to a “consultation protocol” laid out by the Juruna themselves.