Extensive Ore Beds Go Unexplored in Brazil

The state of Amazonas possesses Brazil’s largest known reserves of sylvite, kaolin, and niobium, and none of them is being exploited. This state of affairs was revealed on Tuesday (30) by the regional head of the National Mineral Research Department (DNPM), Fernando Burgos, at the unveiling of the state’s geological map.

The sylvite beds were discovered by Petrobras in the 1980’s, in the Nova Olinda do Norte region. Sylvite is a source of potassium chloride, which is used in fertilizers and is currently imported in large part by Brazil, mainly from Canada.

Less than 15% of the potassium chloride consumed in Brazil is of domestic origin. The domestic supply is derived from sylvite extracted by the Vale do Rio Doce Company from the Taquari-Vassouras mine in the state of Sergipe.

This year Petrobras announced a public auction for rights to mine the Amazonian sylvite deposits, which are estimated to contain 1 billion tons, more than double the 450 million tons of ore in the Sergipe reserves.

"Nine companies were licensed to participate in the auction, which is expected to take place in 18-24 months," informed the manager in charge of sedimentology in the Petrobras business unit in the Solimões Basin, Raimundo Nonato Cunha.

According to Fernando Burgos, the DNPM regional head, the kaolin beds located along the BR-174 highway (Manaus-Boa Vista) should be submitted to a similar process. Kaolin is used to produce paper and paints.

"Just as we put pressure on Petrobras, we will put pressure on the São Paulo firm that possesses the right to mine the kaolin. It should either begin the operation or transfer the concession to someone who will," Burgos argued.

In the case of niobium, used to manufacture conductors, the chief obstacle to its economic utilization is the location. The beds are in the Upper Rio Negro, in indigenous territory. The 1988 Federal Constitution allows for mining on Indian lands, but the constitutional provision needs to be regulated before it can go into effect.

Gold As Investment

Gold was the investment with greatest returns in Brazil during the month of May. The increase was of 12.73%. In second place was the dollar, with an appreciation of 11.31% in the month. The information is from the research institute Economática.

Agência Brasil

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