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Vale S.A.: Vale involved in controversial dam project Belo Monte

Environmental damages in Brazil

The Belo Monte dam in the Amazonian Rainforest is a very controversial project. Nevertheless, it is supported by many investors, including Vale. The company will put $ 1,4 billion into the construction in order to have a stake in the consortium building the dam.

Initially planned for 2015, Belo Monte will be the third largest hydroelectric dam in the world. Facing increasing energy needs, Brazil had decided to launch this gigantic $ 15-billion dam project. In June 2011, Norte Energia SA, the building group, has received the license from the national environment agency, to start the construction. But the project has been criticised by all sides: environmentalists, Indigenous rights groups, social rights activists and prominent personalities such as Bill Clinton, Sting or James Cameron. However, that has not prevented the beginning of the construction. The dam will flood 199 square miles of jungle. The Amazon ecosystem is threatened and 50.000 people from indigenious Amazon tribes will have to resettle.

Nevertheless, opponents to the dam have obtained several times a temporary halt of the construction: First, in September 2011, by the judge Carlos Eduardo Martins arguing it would harm fishing by indigenous communities, and second, last August because indigenous populations had not been consulted before the project began,infringing Brazilian legislation. But each time, another court decision revived the construction again.

The Brazilian government actively supports the project and even decided to cease relations with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), after the regional body of this commission asked the government to stop the construction. The answer of the Brazilian Office of Foreign Affairs was clear: the recommendations of the IACHR were „precipitous and unwarranted“ and could even “threaten Brazil´sovereignity“. The situation is not easy for Brazil which hosted the last UN Conference on Sustainable Development. It was notably a good opportunity for the indigenous tribes to be heard.

Vale is a Brazilian multinational, which is the second largest mining company in the world. Mainly operating in South America and Africa, the company is also known for its environmental damages and health hazards.

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