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Brazil Maps Its Subsoil

 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.
by: Keite Camacho

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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