Vale: Belo Monte Dam Complex

Plans to construct the Belo Monte Dam Complex at the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon began in 1975. However, the project’s potentially devastating environmental and social impacts led to an international outcry so intense that the project was suspended for many years. Recently, after significant reworking, the project has resurfaced and construction has begun. Vale joined the project in 2011 and now holds 9% of the shares. Together with the expansion of its Carajás iron ore mine, Vale would contribute to a vast change of the region´s landscape [1].

Despite project modifications, the project still poses significant social and environmental risks.The Belo Monte Dam Complex threatens to displace between 20,000 and 40,000 people, including several indigenous groups. So far, 850 families have been evicted [2] without any form of compensation. The dam will also divert 80% of the flow of the Xingu River; and devastate over 400 square kilometers of Brazilian rainforest. Independent studies confirm that the dam is socially, environmentally, technologically and economically unsustainable. Furthermore, lawsuits, many of which have reached Brazil’s Supreme Court, have repeatedly brought the project’s legality into question.

While the project is largely state funded, (80% of the funding provided by the Brazilian National Development Bank), several influential mining  and industrial companies stand to benefit from the dam’s cheap energy. Only 70% of the energy will go to the Brazilian population. The remaining 30% will be sold to power mining and industrial companies included under the Brazilian state’s $40 billion mining expansion plan for the Amazon region in 2014. Specifically, this includes Vale corporation’s Carajás (iron) and Salobo (copper) mines and Anglo American’s Jacaré nickel mine.


Amazon Watch: Belo Monte dam

International Rivers: Belo Monte dam

urgewald: Staudamm Belo Monte (de)

Pro Regenwald: Der Belo Monte-Staudamm im Amazonasgebiet (de)

survival international: Belo Monte dam

Banktrack: Belo Monte dam

Norte Energia: The Belo Monte Dam Complex

[1] Zachary Hurwitz (2011) Minig Giant Joins Belo Monte Dam, 5 February (accessed 02.10.2013)

[2] Christian Russau (2013) Aktionärsversammlungen (3): Proteste gegen die Münchener Rück und deren Beteiligung am Belo Monte-Staudamm 25 April (accessed 02.10.2013)