Brazilian President changes decades-old mining laws to lure investment, protect environment

Brazil’s President Michel Temer issued Tuesday two decrees introducing key changes to the country’s 50-year-old mining regulations, aimed at making the local industry more competitive and sustainable.

The changes, announced by MINING.com last week, seek drawing investment to the sector while implementing rules on the collection of higher mining royalties and their distribution.

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.

Mining titles can now be used as guarantees for financing, which is expected to spur investment in Brazil's mining sector.

The first decree includes measures to allow for mining titles to be used as guarantees for financing, which is expected to spur investment in sector, while allowing miners to continue exploring for minerals even if production license applications are pending, local paper O’ Globo reported.

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

The tougher regulations are a direct result of a series of mine accidents that have hit the country in the past years, including the 2015 disaster at the Samarco iron ore mine, which killed 19 people, damaged the environment and triggered wave of legal issues and challenges for the still-halted venture owned by Vale SA and BHP.

A separate presidential decree implements rules passed by Congress last year on the collection and redistribution of mining royalties on a variety of minerals.

The new rules will not come into force immediately, Adriano Trindade, attorney specializing in mining rules from Pinheiro Neto Advogados told MINING.com. Some of the provisions will only start rolling when the the recently-created National Mining Agency (ANM) is eventually set up. A few other will take effect 180 days after publication, he noted.

Latin America’s largest country ground to a halt last month as truck drivers created hundreds of roadblocks for 11 days, protesting rising fuel costs. Some miners halted operations while others, including Companhia Siderurgica Nacional, declared force majeure.