The Inova Mineral initiative will support, via grants and equity stakes, new projects involving strategic minerals such as niobium, cobalt, lithium, graphite, rare earths and others considered "carriers of the future", while the government also stated that it wants to promote the consolidation of production chains.
Brazilian companies will be able to submit business plans addressing a wide range of areas including minerals research, exploration and processing, and innovation in machinery, equipment, software and systems.
According to the government's initial announcement, the resources will be invested in up to 40 projects with an average value of 32 million real each.
The program has four lines of support:
1- “Strategic minerals”, including cobalt, graphite, lithium, platinum group metals, molybdenum, silicon, thallium, tantalum, rare earths, titanium, vanadium and niobium;
2- "Minerals of high external dependence", which are phosphate and potassium;
3- "More efficient and sustainable technologies and processes"; and
4- "Development and production of pioneering machinery, equipment, software and systems for mining and mineral processing".
The program schedule includes a consultation period with partners and potential corporate and academic contributors next month, followed by up to six months for the submission of business plans, then another six for evaluation and selection.
Beyond the BNDES, Brazil´s Studies and Projects Financing Organisation (FINEP), a public company linked to the Ministry of Science and Technology and Innovation, is also involved in the program.
The Inova Mineral initiative comes at a critical time for the Brazilian mining sector, which has been in steady decline in recent years due largely to government indifference, poor economic conditions and the global mining malaise.