Panel SA: Mining companies fight second round of dispute in the Supreme Court against states


Mining companies in Minas Gerais, Amapá and Pará are trying to reduce the amount of inspection fees charged by the states in the Federal Supreme Court. In many cases, the amounts exceed the budget of the secretariats responsible for regulating the sector.

This is the second round of a dispute that, in August, resulted in defeat for the companies. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the states in three Direct Actions of Unconstitutionality (ADIs). The understanding of most ministers was that the collection of State Fees for Inspection of Mining Resources (TRFM) is constitutional.

Now, the CNI (National Confederation of Industry) —which filed the actions representing the mining companies—is asking for a calibration of the values, considered abusive. No date has yet been set for the appeals to be heard.

The objective is to reduce the charge equivalent to the inspection costs of mining activities. According to the Confederation, the fees currently serve only for collection and miscellaneous expenses, with no connection to inspection.

An audit by Ernst & Young, carried out at the request of the CNI, shows that by 2020 the average proportion between the amount collected from fees in Pará and the expenses of a specific secretariat for mining reached 3,797%. In Minas this difference exceeded 431%.

Data from the government of Pará indicate that, until October of this year, the TRFM yielded BRL 416 million to the public coffers, 9% more than in the same period of 2021 – in the 12 months of 2021, the government of Pará received BRL 566 million with the rate .

In Minas, collection until October was R$ 349 million, an increase of 18% compared to the same period last year.

The water sector, for example, also pays inspection fees in Pará, but in smaller amounts than mining. The STF declared that the “toll” in the sector is unconstitutional and the charge was readjusted.

Until October, the fee yielded only BRL 361,000 – in 2019, before the review, the fee’s collection exceeded BRL 41 million.

Another point raised by the CNI is that the ANM (National Mining Agency), a body dedicated to the regulation and inspection of the sector, would already be sufficient for the inspection of companies.

With the creation of the laws that established the TRFM in 2011, the states would be crossing the competence of the ANM, which has a budget of R$ 8.7 billion.

Ibram (Brazilian Mining Institute), an entity that brings together the major companies in the sector, told Panel SA that it considers the charging of fees to be abusive and argues that the states need to review the TRFM.

When contacted, the National Mining Agency did not respond to the column’s questions until the close of this edition. Samarco, one of the giants in the sector, declined to participate in the story.

Julio Wiziack (interim) with Paulo Ricardo Martins and Diego Felix

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