Brazil freezes new mine claims pending reform-Mining Lobby
* Gov't has been drafting new regulations
* Backlog of new claims in the thousands
By Sabrina Lorenzi
SAO PAULO, June 14 (Reuters) - The Brazilian government has stopped granting new mining claims as it drafts an overhaul to half-century-old regulations for the sector, the president of mining lobby Ibram said on Thursday.
For the past four years, the government has been working on a draft bill that would rewrite Brazil's 50-year-old mining code. It wants to raise royalty payments and impose stricter deadlines for developing claims, along with other changes.
"Mining in Brazil is paralyzed because the claims to mineral rights are totally suspended," Ibram president Jose Fernando Coura told Reuters.
He said that new claims for concessions have been frozen since the end of 2011 or early this year, but the National Mineral Production Department (DNPM), which regulates the mining sector, only formally informed Ibram two weeks ago.
As regulation now stands, concession holders can sit on potential mineral deposits without exploring or developing them for years. The government wants swifter development of the mineral deposits and less speculative claims that concession holders can flip after a few years on the expectation of rising metals prices.
Concession holders are individuals or companies that submit mining claims.
Coura said thousands of claims are waiting for approval at the DNPM, which has angered applicants.
A DNPM representative contacted by Reuters had no comment.
(Writing by Reese Ewing; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)
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