It appears that Apple is about to expand its manufacturing operations to Brazil, where a new Foxconn factory is already in place and ready to churn out iPads, according to a report from national media outlet UOL. Aolizio Mercadante, the country's minister of science and technology, confirmed the news this week during a hearing held by the Commission of Economic Affairs. "At first many doubted, but it will be the first time that [Apple] will produce iPads outside Chinese territory," Mercadente said. "We are taking a big step for digital inclusion in the country." Located in Jundiaí, the new facility was constructed under a joint venture between Foxconn and the Brazilian government, with the former reportedly contributing $12 million to the initiative. Rumors of a South American expansion began circulating earlier this year, with many expecting Foxconn's Brazil-based operations to get underway during Q1 of 2012, according to DigiTimes. Construction, however, appears to have wrapped up ahead of schedule, with Mercadante claiming that iPad shipments will begin in December. Apple, for its part, has not commented on the report.