Danum river in Sabah, the Malaysian state east of Sarawak. Photo taken by Rhett A. Butler in 1995.
Malaysia and China have agreed to an $11 billion deal that will turn a vast area of Sarawak, a Malaysian state in northern Borneo, into an industrial corridor for mining and energy development, reports The Financial Times.
The suite of projects includes at least four hydroelectric dams (up to 28,000MW of power), aluminum-smelting and steel plants, coal mines (1.46 billion metric tons), and natural gas development (nearly 41 billion cubic feet), according the state government.
The scheme is expected to drive industrial development in a part of Malaysia that is still largely undeveloped — nomadic tribes and rare wildlife still stalk rainforests in the area. Environmentalists say the projects will displace indigenous groups and destroy important ecosystems.
Proposed dams in Sarawak. For details see David Tryse’s Flooding Borneo’s rainforest: Sarawak’s confidential dam plans 2008-2020 [Google Earth KMZ file]
Bakun dam in Sarawak.
Area to be flooded by Bakun. Image courtesy of the Energy Commission of Malaysia.
Belaga dam site
Murum dam site
Metajawah dam site. Images courtesy of the Sarawak Energy Berhad with credit to the Bruno Manser Fund.
Baram dam site
Baleh (Balleh) dam site. Images courtesy of the Sarawak Energy Berhad with credit to the Bruno Manser Fund.
More pictures and background available at Power, profit, and pollution: dams and the uncertain future of Sarawak.