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30 Jan 2020


Brazil: Indigenous community resists proposed potash mine belonging to Forbes & Manhattan subsidiary

“'They are invaders': Brazil indigenous group takes on mining giant”, 27th January 2020

…As Brazil's far-right President Jair Bolsonaro seeks to authorise mining in indigenous reserves, a conflict with 12,000 members of the Mura indigenous group over a big potash mine in a remote area of the Amazon rainforest may forewarn troubles that lie ahead, report Sue Branford and Thaïs Borges from Autazes.

The company wanting to open the mine is Potássio do Brasil, a subsidiary of the Canadian conglomerate Forbes & Manhattan. Potash is an important fertiliser used heavily by agribusiness.

In 2010 Potássio do Brasil discovered huge potash reserves in the municipal district of Autazes, 112km (70 miles) east of Manaus, the capital of Amazonas state. It quickly announced its plan to open a vast $2.5bn (£3.25bn) potash mine...

Potássio do Brasil quickly obtained authorisation from Brazil's mining agency to drill exploratory wells and began prospecting in 2013…

But then the indigenous communities woke up to what was happening. Speaking beside one of the exploratory wells, located on what the Mura claim is ancestral land, Aldinélson Pavão, the leader of the village of Urucurituba, could not hide his indignation…

The Mura mobilised and, represented by Brazil's public prosecutor's office, reached a court-approved deal with Potássio do Brasil in March 2017.

This has halted the project until a "free, prior and informed consultation" has been carried out...