The brazilian government has abolished a vast national reserve of the Amazon to open the mining sector.
The area, which covers more than 46,000 square miles (17,800 square miles), straddling the northern states of Amapa and Para, and is thought to be rich in gold and other minerals.
The government has stated that the nine conservation and indigenous land areas in the interior, it would continue to be protected by the law.
But activists have expressed fears that these areas could be severely compromised.
A decree of the President Michel Temer abolished a protected area known as the National Reserve of Copper and Associates (Renca).
Its size is larger than Denmark, and about 30% of it will be open to mining.
The mining and energy ministry says the protected forest areas and indigenous reserves will not be affected.
“The objective of the measure is to attract new investment, the creation of wealth for the country and employment and income for the company, always based on the precepts of sustainability,” the ministry said in a press release.
But the opposition Senator Randolfe Rodrigues has denounced the movement as “the biggest attack on the Amazon of the last 50 years,” O Globo newspaper reported (in Portuguese).
MaurÃcio Voivodic, at the head of the conservation organization WWF in Brazil, warned last month that the mining in the region would lead to “the population explosion, deforestation, destruction of water resources, loss of biodiversity and the creation of terrains of conflict”.
Amazon culture clash
The loss of Indigenous lands climate threat
The indigenous leaders, the struggle for survival
According to the WWF report, the main area of interest for copper and gold exploration in the protected areas, the Biological Reserve of Maicuru.
There is also said to be gold in the Para State of the forest, which is located inside of the area.
The WWF says that there is a potential risk of conflict too in two indigenous reserves that are home to different ethnic communities living in relative isolation.
WWF report says that “the gold rush in the region could create irreversible damage to these crops.”
“If the government insisted on the opening of these areas for mining operations without any discussion of environmental protection measures, it will have to deal with an international outcry.”
Get the BBC news in your inbox each weekday morning