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Brazzil - Economy - July 2004
 

Brazil Maps Its Subsoil

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced his
country's intention of expanding the areas mined in Brazilian
territory by 30 percent. This should add US$ 1.9 billion in
mineral wealth to Brazil's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and
generate 500 thousand new direct and indirect jobs.

Keite Camacho


Brazzil

Picture President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced the completion of the first Geological Map of Brazil on a 1:1,000,000 scale. The task was accomplished by the Geological Service, part of the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

"It is the most significant and important set of digitally available data in geology, geochemistry, and geophysics," the President underlined, July 2,.at the inauguration of the Sossego copper mine, in Canaã dos Carajás, in the state of Pará.

Lula also announced the allocation of US$ 56.6 million (160 million reais) for the production of new geological maps until the end of his term in office. The new maps will cover 2.5 million square kilometers of Brazilian territory, a 72 percent increase in scope compared to what currently exists.

"In Carajás, beneath this soil, there are immense riches that have greatly contributed to Brazil's development and social progress. With the production of this and the other mining companies associated with the project, it will be possible for Brazil to achieve self-sufficiency in copper and increase its export capacity in the mineral sector," the President affirmed.

According to the President, the goal is to expand the areas mined in Brazilian territory by 30 percent, adding US$ 1.9 billion (6 billion reais) in mineral wealth to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generating 500 thousand new direct and indirect jobs, as well as improved safety conditions for the companies and the population involved.

According to Lula, some researchers contend that other Carajás—belts containing reserves of iron, manganese, copper, and other mineral ores—may exist in Brazil. "But the State did not invest in mapping the subsoil to attract domestic and international private capital to the mineral sector. For three decades there have been no investments to discover the wealth we possess in our soil and subsoil," he stated.

The Sossego mine is Vale do Rio Doce Company's first copper project in the region, with an annual production capacity of 140 thousand tons of copper concentrate. It is estimated that by 2007, when the Sossego Project is in full operation, the five mines—Sossego, Alvo 118, Salobo, Alemão, and Cristalino will create 1.5 thousand jobs.

One of Brazil government's priorities is to invest in mineral research and exploration, says Minister of Mines and Energy, Dilma Rousseff.

According to the Minister, if Brazil is to have development in mining, the government has to have an updated and modern mining department.

Rousseff recently returned from a trip to Canada where she was told that Canadian mining interests could invest as much as US$2 billion in gold, nickel, copper and diamond operations in Brazil.

Mining in Indian Land

The recent assassination of prospectors on the Roosevelt Indian reserve, in the state of Rondônia, revived the controversy surrounding the regulation of mining in Indian territories and revealed the weakness of the National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM), responsible for the authorization, supervision, fiscal control, and development of mining activities in Brazil.

The general director of the DNPM, Miguel Antonio Nery, acknowledged that the administrative and technological lag experienced by the organ makes it difficult to carry out its legal responsibilities.

Minister Rousseff herself recognized that modernization of the department is essential in order for the country to have a developed and efficient mining sector.

With respect to regulating Constitutional article 231, which establishes rules for the exploitation of minerals and plants on Indian lands, Nery informed that the government is discussing legislation that seeks a consensus among the various projects under consideration in the National Congress.

The DNPM director explained that the Constitution envisages the possible existence of mining activity on indigenous lands, but the Constitutional provision needs to be effectively regulated.


Keite Camacho works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.
Translated from the Portuguese by David Silberstein.




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