CCBC debates sustainability and development policy for the mining sector

The Secretary of the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME) evaluates that the sector is unfairly treated because it has a positive net environmental balance

By Viviane Monteiro

The event held by the Chamber of Commerce Brazil-Canada (CCBC), at the Brasilia Chapter, brought together representatives from mining companies, the government and financial market experts, who debated on bottlenecks, business opportunities and best practices in the mining area. The keynote of the discussion was how to broaden the ESG concept in the sector, which currently accounts for 4% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) and how to attract investments, especially for small mining companies.                                                          

The debate included the former Minister of Defense, Raul Jungmann, CEO of the Brazilian Mining Institute (IBRAM); Mauro Henrique Moreira Sousa, General Director of the National Mining Agency (ANM); Guillaume Légaré, Head – South America, Toronto Stock Exchange & TSX Venture Exchange; Ana Cunha, Government Relations and Social Responsibility at Kinross Mineração, and Adriano Drummond Cançado Trindade, Partner at Mattos Filho Advogados (moderator).

The event also featured the presence of the new Secretary of Geology, Mining and Mineral Transformation of the Ministry of Mines and Energy (MME), Vitor Eduardo de Almeida Saback.  Recently appointed to the agency, Saback said that he was being asked about the course of action to develop the chain sustainably. He added that the head of the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Alexandre Silveira, signaled that he will “give special attention” to inserting the sustainable concept into the sector, which he believes is extremely important for the country’s economic and social development.                                                   

“Particularly, I think it is an unfairly treated sector, because it has a positive net environmental balance,” he said making a comparison with the importance of the water segment. “Sometimes mining is not just mining. The sector brings the energy transition, food security and national security that brings several elements that are present in a lot of discussions that permeate the Esplanade, but that mining is sometimes not inserted,” said the Secretary.

For Saback, it is necessary to work mining in a more sustainable way so that the sector can contribute even more to social and economic development.

The Secretary said it is important for mining agents to have “synergy” and that he will meet with representatives of the sector to discuss relevant agendas. “Do we have to talk about financing? Yes, we do. We also have to talk about geological mapping. We have to talk about sustainability”, he added.

Ana Cunha, Government Relations and Social Responsibility Officer at Kinross Mineração, pointed out that the sector offers opportunities to contribute to society’s development         with long-term projects, significantly improving the HDI of underprivileged regions. “If we take the HDI of mining territories today, they are already, by excellence, pegged to a higher HDI than in other territories,” the director said.

The understanding is that joint action between the public authorities (local, State, and Federal), private initiative, and NGOs is a path that has been successful in developing territories in mining lands.            

Event organized by the CCBC Chapter Brasilia brought together: Mauro Henrique Moreira Sousa. director general of the National Mining Agency (ANM); Raul Jungman, president of the Brazilian Mining Institute (IBRAM); Guillaume Légaré, head of South America at the Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange; Ana Cunha, Director of Government Relations and Social Responsibility at Kinross Brasil Mineração; and Adriano Drummond Cançado Trindade, partner at Mattos Filho.

Development Policy

The CEO of the Brazilian Mining Institute (Ibram), Raul Jungmann, former Minister of Defense, advocated a policy for strategic minerals, mainly for small mining companies that, according to him, do not have access to financial capital in both the domestic and international markets. It is estimated that Brazil has thousands of small mining companies that have no voice and no representation and, therefore, there is no interest from the financial system for the risk of this market niche. He believes it is necessary to create mechanisms to leverage resources for these companies.

“You must have the capacity to create credit and financing conditions for the invisible or the absent. We have the large corporations that are sorted out, because they have access to global chains of investment and financing,” he said.

Jungmann also defended the strengthening of the sector’s regulatory agency and focus on the environmental issue, as the absence of sustainability is one of the bottlenecks for the development of national mining.

For the former minister, allowing agility and more speed in the analysis of licensing requests and processes does not mean loosening or reducing rules. “We can’t continue like this. We also need the capacity to expand our geological knowledge. We need to strengthen the ANM, because the Agency cannot continue asking for ‘pennies’,” he added. “Strong regulatory agency, strong sector,” he defended.                                                                   

Regulatory fragility

Also present at the event, the general director of the National Mining Agency (ANM), Mauro Henrique Moreira Sousa, acknowledge the structural weaknesses of the Agency and defended more agility even within the regulator itself. According to him, the agency faces budgetary, human resources and material difficulties, but that these points cannot serve as a shield to prevent the sector from advancing.

For the ANM’s general director, there is concern about the amount of requests and processes that accumulate and hinder the sector’s development. “If we make an exercise from an economic point of view, we stop attracting investments because we don’t have a capacity to respond in a timely manner, which ends up hindering the attractiveness of investments,” he said.  “The agency cannot remain stuck. It has to understand how the world is moving, where it is going, and how we can act so that these paths can be found; and the first path is not to get in the way,” he defended.

The understanding is that the agency needs to be prepared to offer regulation and capacity to develop regulations that are aligned with the perspectives of the segment and society.

Canada experiences

The director of Institutional Relations at CCBC, Paulo de Castro Reis, highlighted that the goal of meetings like this is to discuss a positive agenda for various economic sectors, such as mining. The executive reinforces that Canada has much to contribute to debates on best practices, sustainability and implementation of technologies for cleaner mining with less environmental impact.

On the other hand, Guillaume Légaré, Head of South America at the Toronto Stock Exchange & TSX Venture Exchange, participated in the event through the virtual platform and spoke about the successful experiences of the mining sector in the Canadian financial market. He explained that the sector receives support from the Toronto Stock Exchange, where there are 40 listed mining companies. “Here, there is an ecosystem that supports the mining sector, it has 250 analysts, a financial system, lawyers, and investors,” he said. According to him, just like Canada, Brazil also has the necessary pillars (mining companies) to develop the business environment and attract international capital. “Foreign capital is after opportunities,” he emphasizes.