BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil’s government has abolished a vast national reserve, created in 1984, to open the area to commercial mineral exploration, according to a notice in the official government gazette on Wednesday.
The area, which straddles the northern states of Amapá and Pará, is thought to contain rich deposits of gold, iron, manganese and other minerals.
A decree from President Michel Temer published in the gazette dissolved the protected area, known as the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca) that covered roughly 4.6 million hectares (17,800 square miles).
Temer has been seeking to stimulate economic activity as Latin America’s top economy emerges from the worst economic crisis in more than a century.
Brazil’s mining and energy ministry had proposed lifting the protections in March to stimulate economic development.
The abolition of Renca does not lift other protections for native vegetation, nature conservation areas and indigenous land in the area, the decree said.
More than two-thirds of the Renca area that lies in Amapá state are subject to conservation controls or protections for indigenous areas that would limit mining, leaving only 31 percent open to research and exploration after the areas abolition, according to a 2010 government report.