Brazil launches new mining agency days before Temer steps down

Brazil's outgoing President Michel Temer launched Wednesday a new regulatory agency for the mining sector, linked to the Ministry of Mines and Energy, aimed at making the country’s industry more competitive and sustainable.

The National Mining Agency (ANM), which replaces the previous National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM), has been tasked with “promoting the management of the mineral resources of the Federal Government, as well as the regulation and inspection of activities for the use of mineral resources in the country,” according to an executive order signed by Temer in July. The decree, part of broader changes to the country’s regulations, was approved by the Senate last month.

Changes to Brazil’s 50-year-old mining regulations also came in effect Wednesday, including measures that make the country’s industry more competitive and sustainable.

Changes to Brazil’s 50-year-old mining regulations also came in effect Wednesday and include measures to allow for mining titles to be used as guarantees for financing. The modifications are expected to spur investment in sector, while allowing miners to continue exploring for minerals even if production license applications are pending.

The new rules also set stricter environmental regulations and the enforcement of mine closures planning. From now on, mining companies will have the responsibility of recovering areas degraded by extraction activities.

Mining is regulated in Brazil by the Mining Code enacted in 1967 and by its Regulations of 1968. While the code has been amended several times, the regulations had remained untouched until today.

The legal modifications will open up about 20,000 exploration areas where permit applications have stalled or been abandoned to be auctioned off again, which represent about 10% of the pending permits, local paper Estadao reported.

The new agency and legal changes take effect only days before far-right President elect, Jair Bolsonaro, takes office on Jan. 1.

The upcoming leader has criticized the Brazilian government’s environment agencies and said he will strip them of their powers to impose “fines all over the place”.

Bolsonaro has also said he would build a highway through the Amazon rainforest and that wouldn’t add even a centimetre to the indigenous reserves in the area.

Last week, he named Navy admiral Bento Costa Lima Leite de Albuquerque Junior (60) as his Mining and Energy Minister. This appointment marks the eighth member of the armed forces to Bolsonaro's government and the 20th Minister appointed so far.