Minas Gerais, the Gateway to Brazil

Get to know Minas Gerais

The many ‘Mines’ and natural resources of Minas Gerais

The toponym “Minas” is directly linked to the history and socioeconomic construction of the state, founded in 1720, coming from the identification of metals and precious stones in official expeditions initiated by the trail-blazing Bandeirantes in the 16th century. The search intensified on the discovery of abundant gold in the riverbeds and in the city of Ouro Preto, a region where there were large deposits in the 17th century. Diamonds were later discovered in the mid-18th century.

Although initially rudimentary, mining activity has evolved and modernized over time, becoming a crucial economic sector in the projection of Minas Gerais onto the national and international scenario, considering the presence of this type of raw material in the manufacture of materials used in the sectors of energy, transport, innovation, civil construction, among others, indispensable to daily modern life.

Brazilian hydro power

Water is a strategic natural resource in Minas Gerais, which directs attention to the management of watersheds and the multiple uses of water resources, with policies for the preservation of its springs, based on the State Water Resources Policy (Law 13.199 / 1999).

In the Cerrado of Minas Gerais, five of the eight main non-Amazonian river basins are born; 70% of the water of the São Francisco River, the river of national integration, as well as 50% of the water of the Rio de la Plata river. In addition, 55% of the Brazilian energy matrix belongs to hydroelectricity from the state’s basins.

It is worth mentioning the Guarani Aquifer, one of the largest reserves of groundwater on the planet.

Furnas Hydroelectric Power Plant, located on the course of the Rio Grande, between the municipalities of São José da Barra and São João Batista do Glória.
Photo: Cristian A. Lourenço
For distribution to inhabitants and proper sanitation of the state’s water resources, Minas Gerais has two of the main public water supply, sewage and solid waste companies in Brazil. The provision of these services is mostly the responsibility of the Minas Gerais Sanitation Company (COPASA), and COPASA’s Integrated North and Northeast Minas Gerais Sanitation Services (COPANOR), which together supply more than 620 municipalities, among the state’s 853 municipalities. The other cities not covered by COPASA and COPANOR have their own companies and municipal authorities for basic sanitation.

Energy: history that leads to sustainability

A pioneer in receiving the first hydroelectric dam in South America (Marmelos plant in Juiz de Fora in 1889), Minas Gerais is a prominent state in the country’s energy supply.

Currently, the CEMIG Group is Brazil’s main distributor, serving over 11 million consumer units and about 30 million Brazilians. It is also one of the top 5 generators and has a strong presence in the electricity transmission and trading segments.

In national terms, Minas Gerais is the third largest state in terms of installed generation capacity with 14,810 MW in 2016. In front of the state were São Paulo, with 19,531 MW, and Paraná, with 17,758 MW, in that same year.

The significant and recent expansion of photovoltaic plants is noteworthy.

Besides the potencial energy of Uberlândia e Belo Horizonte, the municipalities such as Francisco Sá, Guimarania, Jaíba, Januária, Paracatu, Pirapora and Várzea da Palma are worth mentioning as they already have relevant production or projects planned or under construction.

Minas Gerais leads the Brazilian ranking with several large projects being implemented, in addition to the significant expansion of small Distributed Generation (DG) projects.  Many companies announced investments in photovoltaic generation in Minas Gerais, especially in the northern region:

Due to the large and rapid growth of solar energy, several new companies have entered this market, such as CEMIG which, in 2018, created a wholly-owned subsidiary with the objective of deploying, installing, operating, maintaining and leasing projects and equipment for micro and mini distributed generation, CEMIG Generation Distributed.

As a result of this climate of growing investments and huge potential yet to be explored, Minas Gerais stands out in the Brazilian scenario as the federal unit that most develops photovoltaic generation, whether through large projects or distributed micro and mini generation.

Brazil had over 2,100 MW of installed capacity in solar plants at the end of May 2019. Of this total, more than 520 MW were installed in Minas Gerais, about 25% of the national total.

The largest stadium in Minas Gerais, Mineirão, has a photovoltaic solar plant installed on its roof, with a generation capacity of 1,800 MWH / year.

Regarding such investments, the potential to receive new funds is significant, considering some of the competitive differentials, such as:

  • High solar irradiation in the state;
  • Growing need for electrical power;
  • The small share of this Source in Brazil’s power grid, at less than 1%;
  • Minas Gerais is the first state to grant ICMS exemption on self-producing energy. Since 2013, the state has had a policy of stimulating the use of solar energy (Law 20.849, and Decree 46.296, both from that year), which includes the Renewable Energy Mining Program and provides for tax incentives and differentiated tax treatment to renewable energy generating ventures.

Get to know the partnership between ACMinas, CEMIG and Mori Energia Solar that stimulat the use of photovoltaic generation on www.acminas.com.br.

The evolution of Natural Gas

The Minas Gerais Gas Company, GASMIG, has exclusivity in the distribution of piped natural gas in the state, by concession or grant, to the commercial, industrial, residential and thermo-electric segments, through compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas (LNG) and automotive (VNG). It serves 36 municipalities, with a network of approximately 1,184 km.

In this scenario, the governor of Minas Gerais state, Romeu Zema, has signed decree 47.652, exempting from the Motor Vehicle Ownership Tax (IPVA) vehicles powered by vehicular natural gas, although only for cars purchased from May 23, 2019.

For regions without a direct connection to GASMIG’s distribution network, there is a virtual pipeline system (truck transport) to supply Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).

The Telecommunications and Information Technology Scene in Minas Gerais

Due to its size and even geographical location, Minas Gerais has a strategic position in the development and implementation of Information Technology and Telecommunications. The state is a pioneer when it comes to the implantation of TDMA Technology in the 1990s, with installation in Minas Gerais territory, the technology hub of one of the most important companies in the telecommunications segment in Brazil.

4G Technology already serves 4503 municipalities where 95.8% of the Brazilian population live. Its expansion nationwide is at the speed of 25.4 million new 4G chips per 12 months between 2018 and 2019. 3G Technology also consolidated during this period reaching 5413 municipalities

In Minas Gerais, the 4G network uses LTE technology, as well as advancing in the process of digitizing open TV, which helps in the release of the 700MHz band for 4G expansion.

The state has 4G + Technology (LTE Advanced). In May 2019, more than 270 municipalities already had services in LTE Advanced Technology. This allows mobile internet access at speeds of over 100MBps.

The Internet of Things (IoT) technology is being developed in a significant number of start-ups. The definition of legal aspects related to frequency is done by the National Telecommunications Agency (ANATEL).

In the application of Information Technology, within the territory of Minas Gerais, there are currently more than 5,000 companies in the segment, mainly in the Metropolitan District of Belo Horizonte (RMBH).

In the segment of telecommunications equipment manufacturing, the state has an industrial hub, located to the south, including the cities of Santa Rita do Sapucaí, Itajubá and Pouso Alegre. Known as Vale da Eletrônica (Electronic Valley), this region continually produces talent and start-ups in this area.

Minas Gerais has a significant number of companies in the Telemetry segment, large companies that develop and produce vehicle and cargo tracking systems serving Brazil and other countries. In Backhaul Technology, there are still great opportunities in Minas Gerais and Brazil.

It is important to mention the talent-generating hubs of Information Technology and Telecommunications. The Department of Computer Science of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) has several lines of research, including Software Engineering, Bioinformatics, Digital Security, as well as advances in research in the field of Telemetry. To the south, is the National Telecommunications Institute (INATEL), with a focus on hardware and software research with experience as a business incubator for companies the sector. The Federal University of Itajubá (UNIFEI) also conducts research in the areas of Information Technology, Computer Systems and Computational Intelligence.

Besides being the main telephone operators in Brazil, some stand out in Minas Gerais by offering connectivity to companies in various segments and investing in fiber optic solutions, such as Algar Telecom and American Tower, responsible for the acquisition of CEMIG Telecom, previously part of CEMIG Group.

Sustainability and Environmental Scene

Minas Gerais has seven distinct living zones or biomes and possibly the largest biodiversity among the states, with at least 123 endemic bird species.

With this incredible biodiversity, the state has the potential to develop community-based ecotourism in each of these biomes as a tool to reduce poverty and protect nature, an additional sustainable element to the state that would become an international model for sustainable development.

An example of this, “the capital of Minas Gerais”, Belo Horizonte, has received awards for sustainable actions and preservation of the environment:

  • 1st place in the Urban Systems ranking, as an example in terms of sustainability and environment in Brazil (2017);
  • 1st in environment among the south-eastern region cities of Brazil;
  • High ranking on the list of “Latin America’s Greenest Cities”, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, due to its climate policy and sustainable solutions in civil construction;
  • Twice elected “National Earth Hour Capital” by the WWF Cities Challenge (in partnership with ICLEI).

In keeping with its environmental wealth, the state of Minas Gerais has a modern State System of Environment and Water Resources (SISEMA), which is regulated by State Law No. 21.972 /2016, responsible for policies and management, as well as environment and water resources.

Human Capital and Education

Minas Gerais is a pioneer in the placement of children in school at six years of age, guaranteeing an additional year of elementary school in the public education network, which also serves high school.

Photo: Alessandro Carvalho

The quality can also be seen in the private institutions, some of which are considered the best in the country, including by international consensus. They follow the American, Italian, Spanish and Canadian curriculum methods.

The Federations of Agriculture, Commerce, Industry and Transport have schools and technology centers for the training and specialist studies of high-level technical human capital. Besides these important institutions, there is also a wide network of technical schools, particularly the Minas Gerais Federal Center for Technological Education (CEFET-MG), the Foundation of Education for Work (UTRAMIG), and federal institutions in the areas of Education, Science and Technology in the regional sphere.

Characteristics of Higher Education

An outstanding academic power with international recognition, Minas Gerais has a tradition in applied research dating back to the 19th century.

Due to this historical academic vocation, the state has approximately 300 higher education institutions, being the federal entity with the most public higher education institutions.

The distribution of higher education in the state in all its aspects, whether in terms of enrollment number or institutional presence, both in public and private spheres, is still linked to the economic development of the regions that compose it. Therefore, the south-central portion of Minas Gerais, which has the highest rates of economic growth and development, in addition to its productive capacity in industrial and commercial terms, hosts the majority of higher education institutions.

Because of this feature, some of these public higher education institutions, including institutes and universities, have developed in academic, scientific and research terms in close alignment with the economic context of the region in which they are concentrated. That is, there is a good synergy between academia and industry or production chain in these regions.

In the Metropolitan District of Belo Horizonte, academic institutions, public and private, have very broad fields of knowledge, highlighting research and scientific development in the areas of Life Science, Biotechnology, and Innovation. In the humanities, the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, the State University of Minas Gerais (UEMG) and the Federal University of Ouro Preto (UFOP) are noteworthy.

The quality of Minas Gerais higher education institutions is internationally recognized. According to the Latin American University Rankings 2019, the institutions of UFMG, Federal University of Viçosa (UFV), Federal University of Lavras (UFLA), UFOP and Federal University of Itajubá (UNIFEI) occupy the following positions: 8th, 17th, 34, 71 and 91, in the ranking of Latin America’s best universities.

Executive education in constant evolution

In the area of training managers for the public sector, the João Pinheiro Foundation School of Government (JPF) deserves mention, while the Dom Cabral Foundation (DCF) is an important institution which offers the best graduate courses in business in Brazil, and has been ranked for 14 years among the top 20 business schools in the world by the English newspaper Financial Times. In 2019, it ranked 10th – two places above its 2018 placing – and as the best institution in Latin America (a ranking it has held for over a decade) as well as best in terms of infrastructure.

There is also SKEMA Business School (School of Knowledge Economy and Management), a French Business School Institution, with campuses in the United States, China, Brazil, France and from 2020 in South Africa. The first Brazilian campus was set in the city of Belo Horizonte in 2015. The school, which already offers masters’ and graduate programs focused on business, started its first undergraduate degree in Brazil: the BBA in Administration with emphasis in Global Business course, in addition to offering the Augmented Intelligence Laboratory, with the aim of contributing to the educational development and innovation ecosystem at municipal, state and national levels. SKEMA has 3 international accreditations (EQUIS, AACSB, AMBA) – among the 1% of business schools in the world that hold the Triple Crown. SKEMA’s School’s Master program in International Business was ranked 3rd best worldwide by The Economist Magazine ranking. And Master in Management Program was ranked 12th worldwide (and 4th among the French schools represented) by The Financial Times 2019 ranking.

Health Infrastructure

Minas Gerais has over 36,000 healthcare establishments, of which around 15% are in Belo Horizonte – making the city one of the 5 most important Brazilian hospital centers.

Photo: Genilton Elias. The Dr. Célio de Castro Metropolitan Hospital, or Barreiro Hospital, has undergone recent expansions in its service capacity. Has today 460 beds.

At the major state hospitals, mostly located in Belo Horizonte, it is possible to find notable clinical specialties and procedures, with certification granted by international agencies. To serve the population in specific cases, public-private partnerships, including the Unified Health System (SUS) are also provided. Local patients from other states, and even from abroad, can find centers of excellence for health-care in the state capital.

The João XXIII hospital, belonging to the Minas Gerais State Hospital Foundation (Fhemig) is known nationally for the treatment of polytraumatized patients and severe cases of intoxications and burns. Vila da Serra, a private hospital, is a reference in neonatology, and has started to adopt robotic surgery, in partnership with the Hospital das Clínicas, of the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).

Unimed-BH, one of the largest medical cooperatives in Brazil, has more than 1.4 million clients and 5,600 affiliated doctors. It has 351 health care units, including its own accredited hospitals, clinics and laboratories.

Photo: Genilton Elias. Barreiro Hospital is a reference for the SUS-BH Network and for the whole State in terms of high complexity care.

Minas Gerais has expanded the availability of treatments in the Integrated Cancer Hospital (HIC), Mater Dei Health network – opened in 1980 – which extends medical services to Salvador, Bahia, in the construction of another unit. It uses a pioneering and advanced system for identifying and treating prostate cancer, supported by images that evaluate metabolic changes in the organism.

The Biocor Institute is an international reference in the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. As a general hospital, it is recognized for its excellence in complex procedures and individual patient care.

In the interior of the state, in Ipatinga, Vale do Aço, the Márcio Cunha hospital (HMC) is a benchmark for quality in the East of Minas. The Hospital was also recognized through hospital accreditation certification from Det Norske Veritas and Germanischer Lloyd (DNV-GL), and formal awards from the U.S. Department of Health, the National Integrated Accreditation for Health-care Organizations (NIAHO). This recognition was reinforced by ratification from the International Healthcare Committee of the DNV-GL, in the company’s headquarters in Norway.

Many of these institutions stand out in the Qualification Program for Health Service Providers (Qualiss), of the National Supplementary Health Agency (ANS), which features almost 90 health facilities based in Minas Gerais.

Health Public Research

In the area of public health research, it is worth mentioning the Ezequiel Dias Foundation (Funed), a model institution for its studies and production of medication and laboratory analysis of public health problems. The official state laboratory is part of the Brazilian Association of Official Pharmaceutical Laboratories (ALFOB).

The Santa Casa Group, at 119 years of age, serves 80% of Minas Gerais municipalities and 100% by the Unified Health Service (SUS). It is the first health institution installed in Belo Horizonte and is among the best in the country. It is also a reference in transparent philanthropy, sustainable food techniques and environmental preservation.

Photo: Luis War. Santa Casa de Belo Horizonte, a social enterprise, is a reference in health care, medical education, research and funeral services in Minas Gerais.
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