What are MBAC’s principal projects at present?

MBAC has three major projects, the most significant of which is the Itafós SSP project in Tocantins. After four and a half years of development and $320 million investment, the project is nearly operational. The second project is the Santana phosphate mine and fertilizer plant located in Pará, and the feasibility study is expected to be published by September 2013. The third project is a rare earths deposit in Araxá, Minas Gerais. MBAC acquired the deposit in 2011 as they were looking for another phosphate mine. Still, they found a layer of high-grade rare earth elements above the phosphate, and they already have a pilot plant in production.

What are the challenges of acquiring permits and licenses to develop a project in Brazil?

It is always challenging to obtain the necessary documentation to develop large-scale industrial projects in Brazil. Different states have different experiences. In Tocantins, Itafós was the first big mining project to be developed in the state. This made it rather difficult for the local environmental agency. In Minas Gerais, the authorities have many years of experience with this type of project and the local population is well aware of the benefits that mining brings to the area. In Araxá, the government has always been very supportive of our work, and Pará state has many mining projects in development, which has overwhelmed the local agencies.

How does MBAC address the issues of a shortage of skilled labor and fostering good relations with local communities?

MBAC has been training local workers in Tocantins and bringing in more experienced labor from outside. However, in the Santana project, the nearest town is over 150km away, so the company has to deal with the logistics of bringing the whole team from other regions. Regarding community relations, MBAC believes that it is essential to establish a climate of trust from the outset. The company has found that if they are transparent and honest in their dealings with the local people and make clear all the risks and advantages that the project will bring, then generally, the vast majority of people are content.

What impact does MBAC anticipate from the New Mining Code on their operations and overall profitability?

MBAC is concerned about the impact that the New Regulatory Framework will have on their operations. Although the code has been released to Congress, it is still unclear what the effects will be on phosphates. The royalty rates are still not certain, and neither is the methodology for calculating the tax base. MBAC hopes that the final regulations will be well thought out and achieve their goal of making the national mining sector more competitive.

How do you see MBAC developing over the next five years?

MBAC aims to be a world-class mining company with operations in Brazil and abroad. In the next five years, the company plans to expand its operations by developing its projects, increasing its production capacity, and pursuing new opportunities in the fertilizer and rare earth markets. They also aim to improve their technologies, increase efficiencies, and reduce operating costs to maximize profitability.

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