The postcard of Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais, is once again threatened. After going through mining projects that destroyed its “invisible” side, another undertaking in Serra do Curral will be put to the vote this Friday (25th). The project by the company Taquaril can remove 1 billion tons of iron ore from the site and contradicts the process of tipping the mountain, which has already begun.
The licensing vote is on the agenda at the State Environmental Policy Council (Copam). The Guaicuy Institute tries to prevent the vote through a Public Civil Action, filed on Monday (21).
Guaicuy’s main argument is that the process of listing Serra do Curral has already begun and, therefore, the site has temporary protection. The justification is based on article 10 of Decree-Law 25, of 1937, which determines that the tipping process can be initiated by the notification of the competent body, and, thus, would already appear as a provisional tipping, being equivalent to the definitive in terms of protection. .
The tipping study was carried out by the State Institute of Historical and Artistic Heritage (Iepha), within the administrative process number PTE – 163/2018, which has already started and awaits a vote by the State Council for Cultural Heritage (Conep).
Pedro Andrade, one of the lawyers in the lawsuit, explains that the approval of the Taquaril project, at this time, would put a brake on the protection of Serra do Curral. That’s why, the action asks that the licensing not be voted on this Friday by Copam. But, if that happens, it also asks that the 5th Court of the Public Treasury and Municipalities of the District of Belo Horizonte consider it null in advance.
“We understand that putting the project to a vote is totally immature, as there are a series of doubts and a series of adjustments that should be made”, he points out.
Tipping meets resistance
The government of Romeu Zema (Novo) has been denounced as a strong opposition to the protection by law of Serra do Curral. This statement appears in a letter released on Monday (21) by the state councilors for the Cultural Heritage of Minas Gerais, members of Conep.
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Among the complaints, they cite the delegitimization of the study carried out by Iepha, which supports the preservation of Serra do Curral, and also “legal-administrative maneuvers” at Conep that would be delaying the approval of this study.
Conep is subordinate to the Secretary of State for Culture and its president is the Secretary of State for Culture. It is also composed of the president of Iepha and 19 other representatives of institutions and civil society.
The study was completed in 2020 and approved by Iepha in the first months of 2021. The orientation was that Conep would appreciate it at its first meeting of the year. However, no meeting of the body was convened throughout 2021.
After strong mobilization, Conep was summoned to a meeting on December 21, 2021, in which there was no debate on the study carried out, but a “report” that its approval would be extended for more than six months. According to the councilors, the justification would be to estimate the “economic impacts” of the tipping, “a procedure never seen in any act of tipping”, says the letter.
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“We demand that an extraordinary meeting be immediately convened to recognize the provisional listing of Serra do Curral”, completes the architect and urban planner Débora Queiroz, a member of Conep and one of the signatories of the letter. She also highlights the need to recompose Conep in a transparent and democratic way, since the mandates ended in January of this year.
The state government stated that the delay in approving the study is related to the municipalities that will be involved in the listing: Belo Horizonte, Nova Lima and Sabará. “The municipalities contemplated questioned, in court, about the consequences of this protection in their territories”, he informs. Iepha would have been interested in presenting the studies to the administrations of each locality, which was accepted by the Public Ministry of Minas Gerais.
The administration did not respond about the possible illegality of voting a mining project for an area that has already started the process of listing.
But what does the Minas Gerais government want?
Although Minas Gerais has suffered heavily from the consequences of mining, apparently, it has an administration that further encourages exploration in the state. Only in November 2021, the government of Romeu Zema signed five partnerships with mining companies. And the trend has been the same since the beginning of management.
“The government, in fact, is trying to get this mining started in Serra do Curral, despite all these problems that we have been talking about”, analyzes lawyer Pedro Andrade. “As soon as the landmark study was published, the government criticized it saying that it violated the law on private enterprise and economic freedom”, recalls Pedro.
Source: BdF Minas Gerais
Editing: Larissa Costa