RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil’s government has stripped a more than 4-million-hectare (15,440-sq.-mile) reserve in the Amazon rainforest of its protected status, clearing the way for mining activity in that area, officials said.
A decree published Wednesday in the Official Gazette abolished the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca), which straddles the northern Brazilian states of Para and Amapa.
Para borders Guyana and Suriname, while Amapa borders French Guiana and Suriname.
The reserve, which was created in 1984 by Brazil’s then-military dictatorship, is considered to be a promising area for gold, iron, manganese and tantalum exploration.
The decree signed by President Michel Temer said environmental protection laws would be respected in opening up the reserve to mining.
The move “does not impede application of specific legislation on protection of native vegetation, nature conservation units, indigenous lands and border areas,” the text said.
Several environmental organizations have already expressed opposition to the decree, noting the presence of natural reserves and indigenous groups in the region.