A new Brazilian government under president-elected Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva could mean more environmental responsibility, according to a group representing the mining cities of the country.
Leftist former Brazilian President Lula was elected this Sunday for a third presidential term, winning over far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro.
“In the last four years, there has been a reduction in environmental protection. The Amazon today is no man’s land,” said Waldir Salvador, institutional relations consultant at the Associacao dos Municipios Mineradores do Brasil, which represents 70% of the country’s mineral production.
“The truth is that the current government has practically not changed the reality of what was being practiced with public mining policies in Brazil. Mining in Brazil has been neglected for a long time,” Salvador told MINING.COM.
According to the Association, during Lula’s first term (2003-2006), the government had a dynamic mining minister that built a new regulatory framework for mining.
Despite the presence of mining giant Vale in the country, mining accounts for only 2.4% of Brazil’s GDP.
Last week, former president Lula released proposals for the sector in a letter.
The document outlines investments in strategic natural resources, sustainable mining for energy transition, zero deforestation, and zero carbon emissions – but without setting targets.
Lula also promised to end illegal mining in the Amazon. Between 2015 and 2020, Brazil traded 229 tonnes of gold with evidence of illegality, equivalent to almost half of the gold produced and exported by the country.
Under the presidency of Lula and his Workers’ party successor, Dilma Rousseff (2004-2016), deforestation fell by 72%.
Bolsonaro has long railed against Brazil’s indigenous people for occupying too much land — 13% of the country — and hindering the economic development of untold mineral resources.
Brazilian miners, however, expect the sector to remain the same.
Companies like Vale (NYSE: VALE), Anglo American (LON: AAL), and Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) are expected to invest about $40 billion in projects in Brazil through 2026.
“The two (candidates’) stances, even though they are quite different, in one we would have a certain continuity of the current policy… and in the other, it would be something that has already been observed,” top industry association Ibram’s sustainability and regulations director Julio Nery told Reuters.
“That’s why we don’t expect a flight of investments due to the election,” said Nery.
Ibram has previously come out against a potential proposal from Lula to raise royalties on specific mining projects.
Under the rule drafted by mining specialists working for Lula, the government would charge an increased royalty rate – known as a “special stake” – on minerals of exceptionally high value.