Brazil Potash’s Autazes Project in the Amazon
Brazil potash is an agricultural company focused on the extraction of potash ore, a crucial ingredient in the manufacture of fertilizers used in the cultivation of crops such as soybeans, a mainstay of Brazilian agribusiness. The project would provide a local supply of the mineral to alleviate Brazil’s dependence on imported potash and farmer supply chain risk, promoting economic prosperity and environmental sustainability in both the country and industry.
The plan predates Bolsonaro’s rise to power but epitomizes the type of extractive projects he seeks to promote in the Amazon, in this case on the grounds that it would help fuel soybean production, a mainstay of Brazilian agribusiness and export trade. Brazil currently imports 85% of the potash it uses, and the Autazes project could supply 50% of domestic demand within four years.
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Initially, the project was opposed by the Mura people – a tribe in northeastern Brazil whose lands host the mine site — but a consultation meeting in early April was the first step in a process that will give the community a chance to weigh in on the mining project, as is their right under Brazilian and international law.
The project’s proximity to the Madeira River — which serves as a vital transportation route for soybeans from Mato Grosso state to ports on the Atlantic coast, where they are loaded onto transatlantic vessels bound for Asia and Europe — is also a major selling point. Instead of traveling empty back up the river to Rondonia, as is common today, the barges carrying harvested soybeans from the region’s soy-producing regions would be able to stop at the port in Itacoatiara, which is near the Autazes project.