Judge says the mine is not on indigenous land; company can explore potassium in Amazonas

Judge says the mine is not on indigenous land; company can explore potassium in Amazonas
Judge says the mine is not on indigenous land; company can explore potassium in Amazonas
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“The activity undertaken, based on the data produced so far, is not located within indigenous land”, said the magistrate

Judge Flávio Jaime de Moraes Jardim, from the Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region (TRF-1), decided that the Amazonas Environmental Protection Institute (Ipaam) is authorized to license the exploration of potash in Autazes, in the Metropolitan Region of Manaus – 100 km from the capital of Amazonas. He defined that the project “does not appear to generate direct impacts on any indigenous community”.

The decisions were made in appeals filed by the company Potássio do Brasil, which has a project to extract the mine in the municipality, which could reduce Brazil’s dependence on imports of the product. The company has been trying to make the project viable for six years, but is blocked by environmental activism. Until the judge’s decision, only Ibama was recognized as the competent body to carry out licensing.

Touted as a solution to Brazil’s dependence on fertilizers from other countries, the exploration of potash in Autazes, which is not in indigenous territory, has been questioned by activists as it could pollute the nearby village of Mura. The location is not yet demarcated.

Ibama itself has already recognized that the legal attribution to conduct the licensing, because the project “is not located on indigenous land”, belongs to Ipaam.

When analyzing the case, on Sunday, Flávio Jardim maintained that “everything seems to converge towards the maintenance of licensing” by Ipaam. He said the project “does not appear to have direct impacts on any indigenous community.”

“The activity undertaken, based on the data produced so far, is not located within indigenous land”, said the magistrate

For Jardim, Ibama has “supplementary competence” and can intervene in the licensing process “at any time if it sees that environmental interests are not receiving due attention and protection from the state environmental agency”. He considered that Ibama itself understands that licensing through Ipaam is legitimate.

“I support the anticipation of the appeal to suspend the effects of the decision (…) in the part in which it determined that the environmental licensing of the ‘Projeto Potássio Amazonas Autazes’ be carried out by IBAMA and not by the Institute of Environmental Protection of Amazonas – IPAAM, until later decision, establishing the competence of the state body”, says an excerpt from Jardim’s decision.

In another appeal, filed by Potássio do Brasil, the judge authorized the continuation of environmental licensing by Ipaam.

The company appealed a decision that recognized that the license can only be granted by Ibama after consultation with indigenous peoples and with authorization from the National Congress and that declared null and void any act that does not meet these requirements.

“I partially grant the requested injunction to, as decided in Suspension Request No. 1040729-80.2023.4.01.0000 by the Presidency of the Court, allow the continuation of environmental licensing by the state body – the Amazonas Environmental Protection Institute – Ipaam, until further decision ”, says an excerpt from the court order.

In February of this year, federal judge Marcos Augusto de Souza, serving as Presidency of the TRF1, overturned another decision, from November 2023, which had prohibited the licensing of Ipaam for mineral exploration in Autazes. Souza responded to a request from the company Potássio do Brasil.

Souza maintained that TRF1 sought to avoid “undue interference by the Judiciary in the regular exercise of administrative functions by constituted authorities, which results in serious harm to public and administrative order”. He said that Ipaam’s acts may be annulled later if any irregularity is found.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Judge indigenous land company explore potassium Amazonas

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