Mining is present in the history of Brazil

The history of Brazil has been intertwined with the history of extractive activities since the discovery in 1500. Soon after the arrival of Portuguese explorers, the Lusitanian government encouraged several expeditions to search for gold and precious stones, especially in areas distant from the Brazilian coast. Mining was one of the major factors responsible for territorial occupation and one of the basic sectors of the national economy.

The expeditions to the interior of the country traveled all over our territory looking for valuable metals (gold, silver, copper) and precious stones (diamonds, emeralds).


The earliest evidence of iron presence, reported in a letter to John III, King of Portugal, by Bishop Afonso Sardinha.


Discovery of the first gold deposit, near Pico do Jaraguá, Captaincy of São Vicente, near the current city of São Paulo.


Organized the first expedition to the interior of Brazil looking for gold, from Paraty to the Rio Sapucaí basin, in an incursion by Martim de Sá.


First reference to the mineral legislation in Brazil, of August 15.


First discovery of gold attributed to Manuel Borba Gato in lands of the current state of Minas Gerais, on the banks of Rio das Velhas.

1709 to 1720

In the early 18th century, precious metals and valuable stones were found in the interior of the Captaincy of São Paulo in areas that currently correspond to the states of Minas Gerais, Goiás and Mato Grosso. The discovery caused a population flow from Portugal and other populated areas of the colony, and internalized the development of the country.


he Governor of Minas Gerais suggests to the Portuguese Crown the creation of a steel mill.

Mining provided a number of changes in Brazil: a new economic hub grew in the Southeast, trade relations were developed and the population began to live more and more in cities. This urban movement contributed to the diversification of the economy and the emergence of new social groups such as: merchants, craftsmen, lawyers, doctors, among others.

1930 to 1980

The mining landscape in Brazil has changed since the 20th century. At that time, through a government policy based mainly on subsidies, that is, direct financial incentives from the government to the sector, it began to become professionalized. That served to create the basis of an industrial economy.


Law 6,938, of August/31/81, was promulgated establishing the National Environment Policy, its purposes and formulation, and application mechanisms, which brought profound modifications to the country´s mineral activities.

21st Century

Currently, the value of mining as the basis for all industries and a source of wealth creation for Brazil is undeniable. According to the 2016 National Mining Agency, this is one of the main economic activities in the country. With 9,415 mines in operation and occupying only 0.5% of the entire national territory, the mining industry creates more than 180,000 direct jobs and approximately two million indirect jobs, in addition to accounting for 30% of the trade balance.