Brazil

Samarco Mineracao SA, a joint venture between Brazilian miner Vale SA and BHP Group Ltd, has filed for bankruptcy protection to prevent creditors’ claims from affecting its operations, Vale said in a Friday securities filing, Reuters reported. The collapse of a dam at the Samarco mine complex in 2015 killed 19 people and severely polluted the Doce River with mining waste, one of Brazil’s worst environmental disasters. The facility, which resumed production in December, is the focus of significant litigation from bondholders holding nearly $5 billion in debt.
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Hundreds of Brazilian economists, including former finance ministers and central bank presidents, urged the Brazilian government in an open letter published on Monday to speed up vaccination and adopt tougher restrictions to stop the rampant spread of COVID-19, the Associated Press reported. The signatories of the letter decried the “devastating” economic and social situation in Latin America’s largest nation. They also attempted to debunk President Jair Bolsonaro’s assertion that lockdowns and restrictions would inflict greater hardship on the population than the disease.
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Brazil spent more money shielding its economy from the pandemic slump than almost any other emerging nation, and quite a few wealthier ones too. It put much less effort into containing the pandemic itself, Bloomberg News reported. That combination is putting the country’s economic policy under growing strain. It’s one reason why Brazil is poised to become the first Group of 20 country to raise interest rates this year.
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Brazil’s Supreme Court could upend years of work by the Carwash anti-corruption task force that sent some of the nation’s top politicians and businessmen to jail, Bloomberg News reported. A panel of five judges is discussing whether Sergio Moro, once the judge in charge of the investigation and its most public face, was biased in his rulings against Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. If he’s deemed unfit, the decision could open the door for others he convicted to request their cases be reviewed.

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Rio Tinto PLC said that its chairman would step down because of its destruction of two ancient rock shelters in Australia last year, bowing to demands from some investors for greater accountability for the incident, the Wall Street Journal reported. Rio Tinto said that Simon Thompson won’t seek reelection next year, tying the decision to the May demolition of the Juukan Gorge shelters that contained a trove of artifacts indicating they had been occupied by humans more than 46,000 years ago.

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A U.S. judge on Wednesday quashed a bid to widen the scope of a civil lawsuit by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that accused miner Rio Tinto of fraud at its Mozambican coal business, a court filing showed, Reuters reported. The SEC filed a complaint against Rio in 2017 with allegations that it had fraudulently concealed the decline in value of the business. Rio had acquired Riversdale mining for $3.7 billion in 2011, on the premise it would be able to barge 30 million tonnes of coal per year down the Zambezi river, and rail a further 12-15 million tonnes of coal per year to port.
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Shares in Brazilian banks were down in late afternoon trading on Monday as media reported the government will raise taxes on banks as a way to compensate for tax exemptions for fuel, Reuters reported. According to O Globo newspaper, the government will raise one of the taxes paid by banks, a contribution over net income, from 20% to 23%. The government is also planning to end some tax exemptions for vehicles and petrochemical products, the newspaper said. President Jair Bolsonaro has promised truckers to reduce diesel prices by cutting federal taxes on the fuel.
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Brazilian fuel distributors are scrambling to secure diesel supplies for March and April after state-run oil company Petrobras said it would not fully meet their demand, adding to uncertainty amid a sudden management shakeup, Reuters reported. National oil industry regulator ANP confirmed to Reuters that distributors are searching for alternative diesel supplies after Petrobras turned down their orders, but the agency played down concerns of diesel shortages during a bumper soy harvest.
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Petrobras shares plunged 21% on Monday, wiping out 70 billion reais ($12.7 billion) in market value, as Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro again slammed its pricing policies after he replaced the state-controlled oil company’s market-friendly CEO with a retired army general, Reuters reported. The selloff, following a series of analyst downgrades, deepened after Bolsonaro said the company’s fuel policy was only pleasing to financial markets and select groups in Brazil and should be changed as part of an effort to lower gasoline and diesel prices.

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Brazil on Thursday ditched a trade complaint against Canada over aircraft subsidies and called for wider negotiations between all aircraft producing nations to halt a slide toward aircraft trade wars, sidestepping the World Trade Organization, Reuters reported. The abrupt move by Brazil, home to the world’s third largest planemaker Embraer, comes as larger rivals Airbus and Boeing remain locked in a 16-year-old fight at the WTO that led to tit-for-tat transatlantic tariffs.

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