Speaking at a mining conference in Canada earlier this year, Brazil’s minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, made an important announcement: Brazil, with the world’s sixth-largest uranium reserves, will seek to open up its uranium mining to private companies. Despite its large quantities of the chemical—an estimated 309,000 tons, 5 percent of the planet’s total reserves—Brazil’s potential has been hamstrung by high initial investment costs and the state’s monopoly on exploitation.
“What we have to do is to make our legislation more flexible, so that private initiatives can participate,” Mr. Albuquerque told reporters in Washington, just weeks later.
The minister said that while any such move would require prior approval from Congress, a draft bill was already in progress. While Mr. Albuquerque’s statements are, at this moment, little more than mere intentions or wishes, the potential measure could have huge implications for Brazil’s international relations, energy industry and levels of environmental risk.