MAC: Mines and Communities

Brazil: Controversy engulfs scandal-hit ENRC over port plans

Published by MAC on 2013-07-17
Source: Daily Mail, statements (2013-07-14)

Fresh controversy engulfs scandal-hit ENRC over Brazil port plans

By Rob Davies

Daily Mail

14 July 2013

ENRC is risking fresh controversy over plans to build a huge port in one of Brazil's ecological reserves.

The miner - whose founder-shareholders are trying to take it private after a corruption probe - was initially refused permission for the iron ore export port.

Brazil's environmental authorities did not grant ENRC a licence, instead recommending that the location in the Atlantic Forest area be given special protected status.

But a new application to build the port a few miles further south has been granted, despite the Atlantic Forest area being deemed a priority region for conservation by UNESCO.

The plan risks killing off flora and fauna - including the golden-bellied capuchin monkey and the cougar - as well as obstructing migratory routes for humpback whales, according to campaign group the London Mining Network. They also warned of the ‘severe' impact on artisanal fishing activity, adding that increased urbanisation would cause development of slums and an increase in child prostitution.

The plan will have a ‘devastating impact on the precious ecosystem,' said London Mining Network's Richard Solly.

‘ENRC is yet another example of why the British government should ditch its damaging "light touch" approach to multinationals and start regulating them properly,' he added.

Ismail Abede from local pressure group Action Ilheus, said: ‘The world must be aware of the completely absurd plans of ENRC and the Brazilian government to destroy the Atlantic Forest.'

ENRC declined to comment.


Protected Brazilian rainforest threatened by London-listed mining company

Civil society groups in Brazil and London have reacted with dismay to news that London-listed mining company Eurasian Natural Resources Company (ENRC) has been given permission to go ahead with a massive infrastructure project in one of the most biologically sensitive regions of Brazil.

The "Porto Sul" project in the state of Bahia will take place inside the Atlantic Forest, which was designated by UNESCO as one of the Earth's five most important biodiversity hotspots and the largest biosphere reserve. The development involves the construction of export port on the coast, and the construction of a new railway line to connect it to an inland iron ore mine.

The project will consume a total area of 1.860 hectares of the Atlantic Forest for storage area and an offshore port that will be built over a 2 km extension breakwater that threatens to cause erosion over more than 10 km of Brazilian coastline, with adverse consequences for local communities. A 500 km extension railroad is being built to bring iron ore from the mine in Caetité - Bahia to the future port in Ilhéus, passing through important environmental areas and expropriating hundreds of land owners.

Local NGO AçãoIlhéus (Action Ilhéus) have raised numerous concerns about the project, including the erosion of the coast line, impacts of rapid industrialization on nearby rural communities, and the threat to the flora and fauna of the protected rainforest, including golden bellied capuchin monkeys and pumas.

ENRC is currently the subject of a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office in the UK following allegations made by a whistleblower of fraud, corruption and bribery in its Kazakhstan and African businesses. Local Brazilian NGO AçãoIlhéus (Action Ilhéus) have raised concerns as to the due process in getting permission for such a huge industrial project in the middle of such an important conservation area.

Richard Solly, the coordinator of London Mining Network said:
"ENRC's proposed export port would be built in what UNESCO has designated as one of the world's highest priority regions for conservation and will have devastating impacts on the precious ecosystem. Its major shareholders are now scrambling to go private in order to avoid the inevitable scrutiny of such a controversial project. ENRC is yet another example of why the British Government should ditch its damaging 'light touch' approach to London-listed multinationals and start regulating them properly."

Ismail Abéde from Local NGO AçãoIlhéus (Action Ilhéus) said:

"The Atlantic Forest has one of the highest levels of biodiversity on the planet, and should be protected as an international treasure. There are other ways in which iron ore could be exported from this region without harming the Atlantic Forest. ENRC and the Brazilian government need to explain how they have made a decision that would have such a horrific impact on such precious ecosystems. Brazil is currently experiencing an unprecedented wave of protests and mobilizations against corruption, the government's misuse of public resources and unsustainable development. The decision to allow ENRC to trash the Atlantic Forest seems to be emblematic of all that people are currently rising up against."

For more information/comment, contact:

Ação Ilhéus Spokesperson Ismail Abéde crusul[at]ig.com.br

*** ENDS ***

Notes

ENRC to devastate the largest Brazilian biosphere reserve February 14 2013: http://londonminingnetwork.org/2013/02/enrc-to-devastate-the-largest-brazilian-biosphere-reserve/

ENRC and the Serious Fraud Office: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2013/apr/25/serious-fraud-office-enrc-documents

Link for youtube video about Atlantic Forest in Brazil: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-LoP1eNUN8

Link for Atlantic Forest photos: http://acaoilheus.org/galeria/category/8

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