Since colonial times, mining has been an influential part of Brazil’s economy. Like many other Latin American countries, Brazilian soil is a rich source of minerals, precious stones, and valuable metals. Throughout the 18th century, the Portuguese coveted the region that would become the state of Minas Gerais (literally “General Mines”) for its lavish gold mines. The gold rush reached such a point that the Crown signed a bill to limit the number of men leaving Portugal in search of riches in Brazil.
According to think tank Fundação Getúlio Vargas, from 1705 to 1799, almost 180 tons of gold were extracted from Brazilian lands.
Today, Brazil has 187 active mines – and exports amounted to over USD 31 billion in 2016. As it was in the 18th century, Minas Gerais leads the way and, along with the state of Pará, they account for over 87 percent of Brazil’s total mineral output. Even during the worst recession on record, the mining industry recorded trade surpluses, thanks to a gigantic production of iron ore, bauxite, manganese, and copper.
Besides the diversity of Brazilian soil, efficient logistics were crucial to increase Brazil’s performance over the years. “We’ve developed a great system that works especially well in our main ports. Overall, the quality of our work is down to the diversity of mineral goods, its quality and the logistics,” sums up Marcelo Tunes, mining affairs director at the Brazilian Mining Institute (Ibram).