Brazil suspends decree opening up Amazon rainforest region to mining

The government of Brazil has announced it will suspend action on a recent decree which opened up a vast section of the Amazon rainforest to mining, in the face of a legal challenge and an activist backlash.

Follow consultation with President Michel Temer, the mining ministry said: “Starting now, the ministry will initiate a wide debate with society about alternatives for protecting the region.”

“[This] includes proposing short-term measures that will curb illegal activities in progress.”

Last week, Temer abolished a reserve the size of Denmark, known as Renca, which protected the huge swathe of the Eastern Amazon from mining activity since 1984.

Renca contains significant reserves gold, manganese, iron and copper, which until now have only been available to small scale artisanal miners. Illegal miners also operate across the region.

The area spanning 46,000km² is also home to multiple indigenous communities.

The government also rejected an application from oil majors Total and BP to drill for oil near a deepwater coral reef, 120km from the mouth of the Amazon river.