THE VARIOUS REGIONS OF MINAS GERAIS
Due to the territorial extension (586,520 km²) and the number of municipalities (853), Minas Gerais is divided into 12 mesoregions, with diverse cultural, climatic, and geographic characteristics. Each of them developed in different ways, as highlighted below.:
- Campo das Vertentes
- Central Mineira
- Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Area
- Northwestern Minas
- Northern Minas
- Western Minas
- Southern Minas
- Triângulo Mineiro
- Jequitinhonha Valley
- Mucuri Valley
- Rio Doce Valley
- Zona da Mata
Campo das Vertentes
A region whose economic basis is livestock, even though there are still industrial activities in the region, mainly in Barbacena and Lavras, which include companies in the cement, non-metallic minerals, auto parts, food, and footwear segments.
Tourism is growing in the region, especially in the cities of São João Del Rei and Tiradentes, which receive increasing numbers of tourists attracted by the historical and architectural richness of these cities from the Brazilian colonial period. Other important points to attract tourism to the region are cultural attractions and ecotourism.
This region is responsible for most of the iron ore extracted in Minas Gerais, being explored by large companies, such as Vale S/A and CSN. Other metallic and non-metallic minerals are explored and processed in the region. In this group, one can identify companies such as the gold producer AngloGold Ashanti, the cement companies Brennand Cimentos, Cimentos Liz, and Lafarge-Holcim, the lime producer Mineração Lapa Vermelha, and RHI Magnesita, a refractory producer.
Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Area
The Metropolitan Region of Belo Horizonte (MRBH) stands out in the service sector, which stems from the fact that Belo Horizonte is the capital of the state and the largest commercial, financial, educational, and medical center in the state.
The abundance of raw materials in the area enabled the emergence and growth of an expressive metallurgical park around Belo Horizonte, with many industries focused on the production of ferroalloys, castings, steel, capital goods, and various products, added to the second-largest Brazilian automotive hub.
It is also worth mentioning the Biotechnology and Life Sciences cluster in the MRBH, which is one of the two largest in the country in terms of the number of companies. Although most of the companies in this cluster are small, some stand out in this scenario and stand out nationally in the segments in which they operate, such as the Hermes Pardini Laboratory, St. Jude Medical, and Belfar Indústria Farmacêutica, Hyporfarma, Hipolabor, and Ceva Brasil.
The Northwest of Minas has great strength regarding agribusiness. The region has the greatest potential for expanding agricultural and livestock activities in the entire state. Regarding the industrial sector, the main companies are in the field of the agriculture industry and mineral extraction focused on gold and zinc. Some of them are WD Agroindustrial, Bioenergética Vale do Paracatu, Cooperativa Agropecuária de Unaí Ltda., Cooperativa Agropecuária Vale do Paracatu Ltda., Kinross Gold and Nexa Resources.
The Northern region has extensive areas covered by pastures intended for cattle raising, which is an important sector for the region. There are also large forest plantations for the production of charcoal, in addition to a large fruit production hub, thanks to the São Francisco River and its tributaries that cross the region.
The North of Minas also has important clusters of potters and clothing, artisanal production of cachaça, specifically in Salinas, a city internationally recognized by lovers of this drink for the high quality of its production.
This region stood out in projects aimed at the production of photovoltaic renewable energy. The companies Portal Solar and Brookfield Energia Renovável will build the largest solar energy park in the Americas, which will be installed in the region. The project’s energy production will supply more than 1.2 million families and is expected to come on stream in 2023.
The strong point of the Western Region of Minas is the Local Productive Arrangements (‘Arranjos Produtivos Locais’ – APLs). The most relevant of them is composed of about 1200 companies located mainly in the municipality of Nova Serrana and its surroundings. The Nova Serrana APL is the main footwear hub in Minas Gerais and one of the three main ones in the country and is made up of micro and small companies.
Some of the largest companies in Oeste de Minas belong to the foundry APL – located in Divinópolis, Itaúna, and Cláudio – and to other sectors that are part of the metallurgical industry. In the municipalities surrounding Arcos, the mineral extractive industry is mainly focused on the exploitation of limestone, which is of great importance to the regional economy.
In a beautiful national park located in Serra da Canastra, the municipality of São Roque de Minas is the source of the Francisco River, one of the most important in Brazil and essential for the supply of water and electricity in the Northeast Region.
The South of Minas is the main agricultural producing region in the state, contributing more than 20% to the generation of the GDP of this sector in Minas Gerais. Coffee production is the most important agricultural activity. The region is responsible for about 25% of all Brazilian production of this commodity.
The region benefits from being located between the three main Brazilian metropolises. This fact influences the economy, which is polarized by the São Paulo megalopolis (RMSP), but which also receives stimuli from the metropolitan regions of Rio de Janeiro (RMRJ) and Belo Horizonte (MRBH).
The Triângulo Mineiro region stands out for being the largest producer of cereals in the state and has great strength in the sugar and alcohol sector, processing most of the state’s sugar and alcohol production. In addition, the Triângulo has the largest cattle herd in the state and the second-largest coffee harvest.
The main production hub of phosphate fertilizers in Brazil is also located in the Triângulo, especially in Uberaba. The company Mosaic is in charge of the production, which operates both in Uberaba and in Tapira, Patrocínio, and Araxá.
The city of Uberlândia is home to important wholesalers, which are among the largest in Brazil, such as Martins, União, and Peixoto. It is the largest logistics center in the interior of the country due to its central geographic position among the main producing and consuming centers.
Jequitinhonha Valley presents great opportunities in the mineral extraction sector, explored by Cia. Nacional de Grafite and Lithium through the Campanha Brasileira de Lítio (CBL). Although lithium is already being used by CBL, the existing mineral reserves in the area reveal potential for better exploration.
The Jequitinhonha Valley has the highest concentration of family farming nuclei in the state, with around 78,000 farmers, which is equivalent to 9% of the state’s production.
Another important highlight is the investments made by Sigma Mineração to extract lithium in the region. The sum of investments by this company exceeds R$ 1.2 billion and the forecast is that this project will generate more than 6 thousand jobs.
The territory of Mucuri occupies an area of 23.2 thousand km², with 27 municipalities and a population of 370 thousand people. The Mucuri River is a component of the Doce, São Mateus, Itanhém, Jequitinhonha, Peruípe, Itaúnas river basins and reaches 60% of the municipalities in the region.
The Government of Minas started a development plan for the North and Northeast of Minas Gerais, which foresees an investment of R$ 1.43 billion and the generation of 143 thousand jobs. The main destination of this investment is infrastructure works, such as paving roads and expanding the energy distribution network.
Rio Doce Valley
The main companies installed in the state are located in the region, such as the steel company Usiminas, Aperam South America, and Celulose Nipo-Brasileira S/A (Cenibra). The wide availability of steel inputs is an important factor for the densification of the metallurgy production chain and this context provides the application of great advances, improving the sector.
It is worth mentioning the presence of stainless-steel processing companies, which use the raw material supplied by Aperam South America, the only producer in Latin America of stainless and silicon flat steels.
Zona da Mata
The most representative industrial segments in the region are metallurgy, textiles and clothing, furniture, and food. The industry in Zona da Mata developed from the installation of spinning and weaving factories. Currently, the textile and clothing chain continues to be important for many municipalities in the region.
As for the metallurgical chain, including transport material, Zona da Mata has large production units of the companies Votorantim Metais Zinco, ArcelorMittal Brasil, Codeme Engenharia S/A, Dow Corning Silício do Brasil S/A, in addition to the Mercedes Benz plant, in Juiz de Fora.
The government of Minas Gerais announced an economic recovery plan for the Zona da Mata that will allocate around R$ 50 million in investments to cities in the region. The focus of the recovery plan is to create a favorable environment for job creation and investment attraction. The plan promises to reduce bureaucracy in the business environment and provides for work in several cities.