A Brazilian federal court has revoked Canadian miner Belo Sun Mining’s (TSX:BSX) license for the Volta Grande project, which would have become the country’s largest gold mine, in the Amazonic state of Para.
The ruling, which established the miner failed to assess the impact on local indigenous communities, is a major blow to Belo Sun’s ambitions, Amazon Watch’s Brazil Program Consultant Christian Poirier told MINING.com.
He added the court decision sets a considerably higher legal standard for environmental licenses, but—since it is appealable— could be easily overturned.
In a brief statement, the Toronto-based company only said it had been asked to complete an indigenous study in accordance with the reference terms of FUNAI, the Brazilian indigenous authority.
It added the company expects the study will take five months and that it anticipates receiving the authorization from FUNAI to access the indigenous lands shortly.
Volta Grande (meaning “Big Bend” in English) is an open-pit project near the Xingu River, a tributary of the Amazon. It is expected to produce an average of 205,000 ounces a year over its nearly 17-year life.
Opponents to the project, suspended since November, fear its vicinity to the controversial Belo Monte dam complex —which is designed to become the world’s third largest dam— “may lead to devastating and irreversible consequences … for the quality of life and cultural heritage of indigenous peoples and their territories.”
Volta Grande is supposed to begin operating in 2016. Shares in Belo Sun were down almost 10% to 0.185 at 12:23 pm ET.