Brazil: Government of Minas Gerais permissively facilitates environmental license for Canadian mining

The Secretary of State for the Environment and Sustainable Development of the State of Minas Gerais, Brasil, Adriano Magalhães Chaves, granted ad referendum (later granted the license to be reviewed and voted on by the Council for Environmental Policy – COPAM), reported on September 21, license to install Canadian company Carpathian Gold for gold exploration in the municipality of Riacho dos Machados, in the Gorutuba River bay, north of Minas Gerais. At the same enterprise, in August, the secretary gave grants, also ad referendum, to build a tailings dam near the mining dam (water reservoir) of Bico da Pedra, which supplies the city and all Janaúba region, including the irrigated perimeter of Gorutuba (with large agricultural production).

On September 13, in the city of Montes Claros, the meeting of the Northern Regional of COPAM, with the aim of analyze the license application installation was canceled due to the strike by technicians of the State System of Environment – SISEMA, technical advisers of this kind of process. The counselor Ezio Darioli, representative of the Federation of Industries of Minas Gerais – FIEMG, was the first to request the withdrawal of the agenda of the mining license, arguing that the company Carpathian Gold (that currently tries financing at Macquarie Bank) did not feel comfortable have your license with that assessed disability. The following week the secretary signed the license via ad referendum.

There are many questions about the project, which can endanger the health and lives of people and cause serious damage to the environment affecting the delicate ecosystem of the semiarid region. Only 12 of the 26 conditions were fully performed and four are other agreements with other agencies.

The government’s option to license ad referendum is an authoritarian option, that violates the precautionary principle, the democracy, the right to information and the participation of local communities, social and environmental movements. And besides, remove the power of decision of the counselors and weakens the structure of state environmental permit.

The Government should had have even more caution face of recent facts and widely publicized scheme of illegal sale of public land in northern Minas, investigated by the Federal Police and Prosecutors, involving the director general of the Institute of Land – MG (ITER) and other officials, as well as mayors and mining company Vale.

What the government wants to rush to approve this license? Why pass the course without even considering the problems that the project can generate? The Secretary will address some of the environmental and social damage, if the tailings dam may contaminate the reservoir of Bico de Pedra? Is this how the authorities in Minas Gerais and Brasil will proceed, making everything easier for large enterprises exploration and exploitation of our wealth without the necessary safeguards?

When changing the presidency of the Institute of Integrated Development / MG (INDI) by the Department of Environment and Sustainable Development (SEMAD) Mr. Chaves want to advocate for the commitments that INDI helped establish with the Carpathian mining, despite the environmental implications that the new position should defend.

We denounce the way the Government of Minas Gerais releases and granting environmental permits and sign protocols of understanding with the mining companies operating in our region. We demand that the responsible agencies to investigate ours complaints.

In September 23 of 2011 various social entities of Minas Gerais had sent along to the State Prosecutor’s office a formal complain against the Riacho dos Machados mining Ltda – Carpathian Gold.

In addition to economic interests, the constitutional right to an ecologically balanced environment should be observed strictly. It is up to all of us the duty to defend and preserve it for present and future generations. The license granted without compliance with applicable requirements included imposes risks of environmental damage and social and are void for violation the article 225 of the National Constitution of Brasil and infra-constitutional laws. We therefore demand the cancellation of the installation license granted to this enterprise.

Montes Claros, 05 October 2011.

Movement of People affected by Dams – MAB

Movement of the Hills and Waters of Minas – Movsam

Alternative Agriculture Center of Northern Minas – CAA NM

Movement of Small Rural Workers – MPA

Movement of Landless Rural Workers – MST

Pastoral Land Commission- CPT