Oct 08 2007

Behind the Shining: Aluminum’s Dark Side

Brazil

In Brazil, the construction of Tucurui dam displaced more than 25,000

people. More than half of the power generated by the dam goes to aluminum

smelters in northern Brazil. According to the World Commission on Dams,

“subsistence farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists, and riverbank cultivators”

all had to move out of the way for the new reservoir. In addition, 100,000

people were “affected by reduced water quality, loss of riverbed

cultivation, and decreased downstream fish populations.”

“In the case of Tucurui, of the indigenous groups displaced only the

Parakana people were resettled; the other indigenous group that lost land

to the dam was not considered for resettlement benefits,” reported the WCD.

The erection of transmission lines also impacts indigenous communities.

According to the WCD, “the Gavaio de Montanha indigenous people, whose

lands were affected by the transmission lines in the Tucurui project, were

initially not considered eligible for compensation but were later given

cash compensation.”

After the reservoir was filled in 1984, the WCD reported, “an unusual

proliferation of Mansonia mosquitoes in rural areas close to the reservoir

forced farm families to leave their homes.” Another post-construction

impact was the concentration of mercury from gold mining activities

upstream. Fish caught in the reservoir had more than double the maximum

safety level. (World Commission on Dams, “The Report of the World

Commission on Dams; Dams and Development: A New Framework for

Decision-Making,” 2000, p. 106, 107, 119, 124)

Guinea

According to NorWatch, the Friguia bauxite and alumina project in Guinea

“has forcibly moved several villages, but the number of affected people is

unknown. It has been impossible to have details on how much is paid as

compensation when someone is forcibly moved, or how this has been carried

out. In the future even more people will have to move as the mine is being

extended. 16-18,000 people are still living within the concession area. The

local population complains of their cattle being run down by the company’s

cars, and dying from eating remainders of explosive charges which originate

from the mining. They are not paid any compensation.” (Tarjei Leer-Salvesen

and Morten Rønning, “Profits on arms, forced relocation, and environmental

scandals,” NorWatch newsletter, June 1998).

Friguia’s failure to compensate local villagers was reiterated in a local

newspaper report in 1998. According to Africa Energy and Mining, the

newspaper reported that Friguia managers “have been accused of dubious

financial dealings involving over-billing in favor of its suppliers. The

Conakry-based newspaper L’Independant cited a garage, security companies

and real estate owners in connection with the over-billing. It also said

the company had failed to pay village dwellers compensation for having to

re-locate, even

though it claimed to have sent the money to the local authorities.” (“Four

pre-qualified for Friguia,” Africa Energy & Mining, Dec. 2, 1998)

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