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Brazil's Petrobras sells potassium mining rights

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, August 16, 2022
Brazil's Petrobras sells potassium mining rights

Brazil’s federal oil company Petrobras is selling its potassium exploration and mining rights in the Amazon basin as part of government efforts to reduce the dependence on fertilizer imports. 

Petrobras will sell 34 mining titles. It hired Ernst & Young as financial adviser, according to a statement. Bidding details are available here.

Apart from the government’s diversification drive, the sale also serves Petrobras’ divestment program to shed non-core assets.

"I see more and more private sector companies interested in investing in projects associated with minerals linked to fertilizer production. The federal government's efforts to boost the national fertilizer plan will help that this trend remains," Fernando Tallarico, the managing director of Aguia Resources, an Australian company focused on the exploration and development of large-scale phosphate and potash projects in Brazil, told BNamericas.

Interest in fertilizer projects increased, especially since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which triggered severe sanctions and could indirectly affect Brazil, as it is highly dependent on Russian fertilizer imports. 

Brazil is the fourth largest consumer of fertilizers in the world, accounting for about 8% of global demand, and is the largest fertilizer importer. It imports around 80% of the fertilizer used in agriculture. Russia supplied about 25% of Brazil’s demand.

"With the opening up of mining to private sector investments, with better regulations, it will be possible in a few decades to greatly reduce, even eliminate, Brazil's dependence on imported fertilizers," added Tallarico. 

NUCLEAR ORES 

In related news, the government published a decree providing greater flexibility for the private sector in partnerships with state-run nuclear firm Indústrias Nucleares do Brasil (INB) regarding exploration of nuclear raw material mining.

Currently, research, mining, enrichment, industrialization and trade of such material and derivatives are carried out by INB. The company operates in the entire production chain. 

The decree allows new models of association between INB and private partners for the exploration of nuclear raw material deposits.

Despite Brazil having much potential, it imports most inputs needed to manufacture nuclear fuel to supply the Angra I and II nuclear power plants, leading to higher fuel production costs and lost business opportunities.

"In this sense, with the updating of the legislation, it is expected that INB, in partnership with the private sector, will increase investments in research and mining and the national production capacity of uranium," the mines and energy ministry said in a statement.

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