The Brazilian government will publish a new decree regulating the dissolution of the National Reserve of Copper and Associate Minerals (known by its Portuguese acronym Renca) to clarify the country’s commitment to protecting the environment. It will regulate mineral exploration in areas with no protected areas, indigenous lands or border strips, and was published in an extra edition of Brazil’s Federal Official Gazette (the Diário Oficial da União, or DOU).
Brazilian President Michel Temer created a firestorm when he dissolved Renca, which opened 47,000 km2 in the Amazon for mining activities. He and his administration suffered an immediate backlash from uninformed environmental activists, who immediately associated the move with deforestation in the Amazon.
According to Brazil’s environment minister, Sarney Filho, the revision will make the rules clearer, especially since the previous text caused so much confusion. “The new text firmly reiterates the position that there can be no mining in protected areas,” he explained.
Located between the states of Pará and Amapá, Renca is well endowed with precious metals. Artisanal miners, known as garimpos, are currently mining gold illegally from the region and polluting the local waterways with mercury. By opening the reserve to professional, private miners, the government hopes to clean up the mess and stop the garimpos from plundering Brazil’s wealth.