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Brazil’s Belo Monte Dam project: Financial impact, indigenous peoples’ rights & the environment

Projet de barrage de Belo Monte, Brésil. Impact financier, droits des peuples autochtones & environnement
Sereen forest lake with stagnant water containing dead wood
© Mikefoto58 / Fotolia

Brazil is constructing the third largest hydroelectric power plant in the world. The Belo Monte Dam is being built in the state of Pará, Brazil. Its first commercial generation is expected to come on stream in 2015. When the full plant is completed, in 2019, it will generate a maximum 11 233 megawatts (MW) capacity.

Planning for what was then named the Kararaô Dam began in 1975. But international financial institutions withdrew in the face of strong opposition. With technical changes in the plans to reduce the concerns of opponents, the renamed Belo Monte project has become one of the flagship initiatives in Brazilian large-scale infrastructure development. After a controversial licensing process, construction plans were finally authorised in August 2012.

Total investment in the plant amounts to R$ 28.9 billion (approximately €10.2 billion). The project will be constructed under a public-private partnership.

Opponents criticise the investment because of its environmental impact, lack of consultation of indigenous people and the resettlement of at least 5 100 families. Many court cases have been heard so far, with mixed results, on grounds of procedural violations, lack of relevant information available, incomplete impact assessment and political interference in the technical licensing process.

Read the complete briefing here

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