Brazil’s most controversial mega-dam, Belo Monte, which is moving full steam ahead against massive opposition, has received an extra infusion of cash from Vale, a Brazilian-run mining company.
Vale, which has projects around the world, announced it would buy 9% of Norte Energia S.A. (NESA), the company contracted to construct the massive dam.
“The plan makes all sense from a strategic point of view, because we will be able to meet more of our energy consumption through our own sources,” Almir Resende, the head of Vale’s energy division, told Reuters.
Environmentalists and indigenous rights-groups alike have opposed the $11-17 billion Belo Monte dam for its anticipated impacts on the region. Diverting the Xingu River for around 62 miles, the dam would flood nearly 200 square miles (500 square kilometers) of rainforest. An estimated 50,000 indigenous people who depend on the river would be impacted, and many forced to move.
Pushed aggressively by Brazil new president, Dilma Rousseff, the administration says the dam must be built to meet the rising nation’s power needs. The dam will provide enough energy to power 23 million homes, yet during three to four months of the year critics say it will run on only 10-30% capacity due to low waters.
Hydropower has been publicized as green, however dams built in the tropics have been shown to release massive amounts of the methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 100 years.
Recently 600,000 people from around the world signed a petition opposing the dam.
(03/28/2011) Former US President, Bill Clinton, spoke out against Brazil’s megadams at the 2nd World Sustainability Forum, which was also attended by former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and film director, James Cameron, who has been an outspoken critic of the most famous of the controversial dams, the Belo Monte on the Xingu River.
(03/06/2011) A recent injunction against controversial dam, Belo Monte, in Brazil has been overturned, allowing the first phase of construction to go ahead. The ruling by a higher court argued that not all environmental conditions must be met on the dam in order for construction to start.
(03/02/2011) Three indigenous Amazonian leaders spent this week touring Europe to raise awareness about the threat that a number of proposed monster dams pose to their people and the Amazon forest. Culminating in a press conference and protests in London, the international trip hopes to build pressure to stop three current hydroelectric projects, one in Peru, including six dams, and two in Brazil, the Madeira basin industrial complex and the massive Belo Monte dam. The indigenous leaders made the trip with the NGO Rainforest Foundation UK, including support from Amazon Watch, International Rivers, and Rainforest Concern.