Environmental impacts of mining in Brazil and the environmental licensing process: Changes needed for changing times?
Brazil, a key mining producer globally, has a comprehensive system of environmental laws and institutions. Nevertheless, their effectiveness has been questioned. We examined the perception of regulatory effectiveness of the environmental licensing process for mining from a range of actors involved in these processes in Brazil. Firstly, we found that in line with past research, participants characterized the environmental licensing system as being beset by administrative and legal complexity, a lack of systematization of these processes, and insufficient resources being devoted to enforcement. The workload of environmental agency officers was also noted as a problem as was political influence. In addition, informants raised concerns around environmental agency officers being personally liable for environmental crimes. Furthermore, although interviewees noted that public hearings, environmental impact documents and having the Public Prosecutor’s Office (PPO) as a resource were useful state-led ways to mitigate environmental risks from mining, they highlighted longstanding issues around the effectiveness of the hearings and the quality and quantity of the environmental impact documents. These findings are important because despite having comprehensive environmental laws and institutions in place for decades including the presence of a dedicated actor – the PPO – past problems with environmental regulation of mining in Brazil continue.