Brazilian court quashes suspension of license for Amazon potash mine

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A Brazilian federal appeals court has overturned a ruling that suspended Brazil Potash Corp’s license to build a mine in the Amazon rainforest, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

According to the news agency, the court determined that the Amazonas Environmental Protection Institute (IPAAM) did have the authority to grant the license to Brazil Potash Corp because there is no officially recognized indigenous territory in the area where the Canadian company plans to construct Latin America’s largest fertilizer mine.

The October 17 decision comes less than two months after a federal judge in Manaus upheld a 2016 ruling that the $2.5bn project must remain on hold until the local Mura people have been properly consulted. The judge had also determined that, because the autochthonous group lays claim to lands that overlap with the proposed site, the federal environmental agency, IBAMA, must grant the license – and not IPAAM.

Reuters reported that the federal appeals court quashed the August 25 ruling due to a lack of evidence in support of the claim that the site is located on indigenous land. On that basis, the tribunal found that the IPAAM did have the right to issue the license.

There are two Mura reserves within 10 kilometers of the proposed site, which is situated 120 kilometres southeast of Manaus. The indigenous group says that the mine would encroach upon its ancestral lands – not all of which are officially recognized by the Brazilian state.

There is reportedly a lack of consensus within the 15,000-strong community over whether to support the development of the project – which some members fear could have a detrimental impact on the local environment.

Brazil Potash Corp, which has rejected their concerns, says that the Autazes mine will take three years to complete and will be capable of producing 2.2 million tonnes of potassium chloride per year. That would meet around a quarter of Brazil’s needs.

Most of the country’s potash currently comes from Russia and Canada. However, due to recent global disruptions it is seeking to diversify its supply chain.

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