Brazilian Ban On Asbestos Transport Upheld 

by Laurie Kazan-Allen



On October 18, 2010, a Labour Court in São Paulo ruled in favor of action taken by the Labour Public Ministry to curtail the transportation of asbestos shipments through the state. On several instances, Labour Inspector Fernanda Giannasi had impounded asbestos freight being carried on highways in the state of São Paulo. Lawyers from Rapido 900, the country's leading transporter of asbestos, objected to the prohibition.

São Paulo State is one of four Brazilian states which have banned asbestos; state Law 12,684/2007 not only bans the use of chrysotile asbestos (other types of asbestos having been banned previously) but also prohibits the transport of asbestos through the State as well as all other industrial and commercial activities involving raw asbestos and products containing asbestos.

As Brazil's asbestos mine is located in the central part of the country, far from the coast, the travel restrictions have serious financial implications for asbestos producers. The shortest route from the Cana Brava chrysotile mine to the coast is via the São Paulo road network. Prior to the enforcement of the São Paulo regulations, the majority of asbestos exports went through the São Paulo ports of Santos and Guarujá, Brazil's biggest port complex. Asbestos deliveries for Brazilian asbestos-cement factories in the south and southeast regions of Brazil also traversed the São Paulo road system.

As a consequence of this ruling, four things are inevitable:

  • the enforcement of the asbestos ban on São Paulo roads will significantly raise the cost of shipping for S A. Mineraçes Associadas (SAMA), the company which owns the mine because the distances traveled will be greater and the alternative ports are less efficient;
  • the increased costs will adversely impact on SAMA's bottom line;
  • the shrinking of profit margins for asbestos exports, which absorb 65% of Brazil's annual production, will put Brazilian exporters at a competitive disadvantage in markets where exporters from other countries receive government subsidies;
  • the Brazilian asbestos lobby will explore whatever means possible to have this ruling rescinded.

October 27, 2010



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