RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Miner Anglo American Plc (AAL.L) clinched hundreds of permits this month to explore for copper in a remote part of northern Brazil, Brazilian authorities said, as the growing electric vehicle market and a scarcity of shovel-ready mining projects fuels demand for the metal.
A major copper find, if confirmed, would cheer the mining industry which is eying a looming shortfall for the red metal, prized as an electricity conductor, after years of shrunken exploration budgets meant little in the way of promising new discoveries.
In a statement to Reuters on Thursday, Anglo said it was too soon to make claims about the viability of the project. But the company confirmed it had received permission to explore for copper in Brazil’s Mato Grosso and Para states where it had not yet begun studies.
The project on the edge of the Brazilian Amazon, an open secret among Brazilian geologists but not previously reported by Anglo, could also be a major boon for copper mining in the country, which lags far behind the world’s top producer Chile and has been hit by a series of headline-grabbing mining accidents.
But the remote location of the 284 blocks, which cover nearly 1.9 million hectares (4.7 million acres), poses myriad challenges, such as the spectre of a showdown with activists, just months after they forced the government to walk back plans to open a reserve to mining.