MAC: Mines and Communities

Power for the rich or for the poor?

Published by MAC on 2006-08-26

Power for the rich or for the poor?

26th August 2006

Last week, Russia's two major aluminim companies, Rusal and Sual, told the rest of the world that they were aiming to merge, thus creating the world's biggest integrated producer of the metal - with the world's largest private commodities trader, Glencore, somewhere in the heady corporate mix.

Rusal meanwhile wants to acquire hydro power from Tajikistan. If the Tajik government gets its way the Russian giant would build the world's highest-ever dam - up to a staggering 335 metres (only 82 metres lower than the former World Trade Centre), thus generating surplus electricity for Central Asia's smallest and most impoverished state.. But Rusal and president Putin seem keen on grabbing less hydro power, simply for their own interests.

It promises a potential lose-lose game: on the one hand, expanding electricity provision, ostensibly for the poor - but with the prospect of a massive dam disaster looming in the wings; on the other hand, a vast construction project imposed on a small nation, simply to serve a powerful corporate/state oligarchy.

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