Brazil federal authorities should take up Belo Sun mine case, court rules

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - A Brazilian court ruled that a mine planned by Toronto-based Belo Sun Mining Corp in the Amazonian state of Para should be examined by federal authorities and its licenses reviewed, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

The decision could further lengthen the approval process for the company, which has been seeking to set up Brazil’s biggest gold mine just upstream of the massive Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on a tributary of the Amazon River. The company had forecast outlays of 1.22 billion reais ($293 million) over three years.

In April last year, a federal judge suspended its license until the miner conducted a study of the mine’s impact on nearby indigenous communities. The project had already been blocked by a state judge due to irregularities in the acquisition of land for the mine, according to prosecutors.

In the decision announced Wednesday, the court said the relevant indigenous authority was federal rather than state-based, and that the nearby dam was licensed by federal environmental authority Ibama.

Ibama should review all the licenses previously granted to the mine, it added.

Belo Sun said its state licenses “remain valid” and that it will seek clarification from the justice system and environmental authorities. It also said data was being collected for its study on indigenous community impacts.

Reporting by Marta Nogueira; Writing by Alexandra Alper, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien