Brazil Potash gets state license for Autazes project

Image from Brazil Potash.

The state of Amazonas in Brazil has issued a license to Brazil Potash to built the Autazes project, pegged to be the largest fertilizer mine in Latin America within the Amazon rainforest.

Governor Wilson Lima declared on Monday that the installation license was granted by the state’s environmental protection agency, IPAAM. The company intends to invest 13 billion reais ($2.6 billion) to establish the mine, located 120 km southeast of the state capital Manaus.

The project, which could reduce Brazilian agriculture’s 90% dependence on imported potash, has been held up for years due to opposition from Indigenous Mura people, who say they have not been consulted about the use of their ancestral lands.

Federal prosecutors said on Tuesday that the license should come from Brazil’s environmental protection agency, IBAMA, and not from the local agency in the state.

“The license violates constitutional rights, international standards and also the rights of Indigenous peoples,” the federal prosecutors office in Manaus said in a statement.

The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of the Amazon (APIAM), an institution that advocates for the rights of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon, told MINING.COM that the Mura people’s communities were not consulted, nor was the Indigenous Component Study conducted in the environmental licensing process.

Indigenous leaders told news website Amazonia Real that they will not accept the state decision and warned about the possibility of conflicts if the issue is not reconsidered by the courts.

In October, Federal Judge Marcos Augusto de Souza suspended a lower court decision that ruled if the land would be demarcated Indigenous in the future, then only Brazil’s Congress and federal agency IBAMA could authorize mining in the area.

The IPAAM further reinforced its understanding of being the correct authority and argues that United Nations International Labour Organization protocols do not require 100% indigenous support for approval of the project.

Brazil Potash has also received a letter from the Conselho Indígena Mura (Mura Indigenous Council) declaring that more than 90% of the Indigenous people voted in support of the Autazes project.

The proposed mine and processing facilities would require about three years to build.

It would be built on low-density cattle farm land deforested several decades ago by prior owners, according to Brazil Potash, who says the ore body is not located under Indigenous land, but is within 10 km of two reserves resulting in the need for consultations with locals.

Production is expected to start in 2026 with an initial output sufficient to cover about 20% of Brazil’s potash needs. Project capacity is pegged at 2.2 million tonnes of potassium chloride per year, the company estimates.