Central Africa's 'Most Beautiful Waterfall' to be destroyed
November 4, 2007
Kongou Falls, a 184-foot (5 6m) two-mile-wide (3.2 km) cataract on the Ivindo river in the Congo rainforest, will be flooded by a dam to provide power for a $3.5 billion plan to mine iron ore at Bélinga in northeastern Gabon. The project -- financed by a Chinese consortium led by CMEC, a Chinese company -- is scheduled to get underway in December, with the first ore reaching China by 2011. China says the project will create 30,000 jobs and result in the construction of a deepwater port.
Aerial photo of Kongou Falls by Michael Nichols / National Geographic
The Gabonese government has responded to the criticism by saying the alternative dam site would be more that twice as costly, while President Bongo has warned environmentalists not meddle with the project.
IPS reports that some environmental groups fear that should the project go ahead, it could lead to the declassification of Ivindo National Park, potentially opening the door to commercial exploitation of Gabon's 12 other parks which were only created in 2002. IPS notes that the Gabonese government has already granted a concessions to a Chinese oil firm to look for oil in the country's only marine park.
Sources: "Central Africa's 'Most Beautiful Waterfall' Under Threat" by Nadine Stella of the Inter Press Service (1 November 2007). "C'est décidé, le barrage hydroélectrique sera érigé sur les chutes Kongou" from Brainforest.