BRASILIA: Brazil launched on Wednesday a new mining regulator aimed at cleaning up its slow permitting process, in an 11th-hour victory for outgoing President Michel Temer's reform agenda.

The National Mining Agency (ANM) will replace the previous National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM). The agency boasts greater autonomy and funding that the government says will bring efficiency to a slow process of mining licenses.

A decree reinterpreting Brazil's 1967 mining code also enters into force with the agency's launch.

That change is set to open up roughly 20,000 exploration areas where permit applications have stalled or been abandoned to be auctioned off again, equating to 10 percent of areas in Brazil with permits pending.

Temer's administration pushed through the promised mining reforms after a months-long stalemate in the Senate over nominations for the new mining agency's directors.

Senators had complained that the directors did not represent Brazil's most important mining regions, with Temer ultimately swapping out two of his nominees for other names.

The impasse ended last week with the Senate approving the final nominee, just ahead of Temer stepping down on Jan. 1.

Copyright Reuters, 2018