Brazilian miner Vale has relinquished all mining rights on indigenous lands in Brazil to the National Mining Agency (ANM).

The move comes as Vale recognised that the rights to mining prospects would require the consent of the communities and legislation regulating such activity.

Vale was cited by Mining News Brazil (NMB) as saying in a translated statement: “The recognition of the FPIC [free, prior and informed consent] is fundamental to meet the rights of indigenous populations to determine their own development and the right to exercise self-determination in the face of decisions that affect their territories.”

Since 2020, the firm returned 89 licenses for carrying out mineral research and mining activities on lands that fall within the indigenuous reservations, to the ANM.

In the coming days, the Brazilian miner intends to file withdrawals and waivers for 15 remaining mining prospects in the Xikrin do Cateté reservation in Para.

Vale said prior consent would be fundamental for the indigenous people’s self-determination and the protection of their cultures.

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The company’s decision to return mining prospect rights comes as Brazil’s Supreme Court is evaluating a ruling that invalidated a claim about ancestral territory made by indigenous people in Santa Catarina.

This case comes at a time when the laws are being advanced by the Brazilian Congress that would reward land grabbing, open indigenous peoples’ lands to mining, end environmental licensing, and reduce the size of the protected lands of indigenous peoples, stated Greenpeace.

The legal changes could cause harm particularly to the 115 officially recognised uncontacted, isolated indigenous peoples in the country.