Xstrata wants to damn more rivers

It seems that the Northern Territory is not the only place dealing with the rapacious Xstratastory from Santiago Times

Plans are currently in place to build at least five massive hydroelectric dams in Chile’s Region XI, an area of northern Patagonia that’s also known as Aysén. A Swiss mining company called Xstrata is looking to dam the Cuervo River, while a company called HidroAysén – a joint entity created by Spanish electricity giant Endesa and a Chilean utility called Colbún – plans to build several dams on the Baker and Pascua Rivers.

Backers of the projects, which together would produce some 3,000 MW of electricity, insist their plans are both necessary and sound. To start with, the dams promise to free Chile from its vulnerability vis-à-vis ongoing shortages of Argentine natural gas. Patagonia’s rivers, furthermore, represent a clean and renewable source of energy, they argue.

The projects nevertheless, have generated local, national and more recently, international opposition. The dams would be environmentally devastating for the pristine region, say opponents. In addition to flooding large tracts of land, the projects call for building a 2,000-kilometer transmission line – the world’s longest – that would literally cut through acres upon acres of both protected and unprotected wilderness area. Also, large-scale hydroelectric projects are by no means the country’s only option, they argue.

“We’re convinced that there are alternatives, starting with energy efficiency,” said Juan Pablo Orrego of the Santiago-based environmental group Ecosistemas. “In Chile, so far absolutely nothing has been done in that respect. And Chile is a country that’s particularly rich in terms of non-conventional, renewable energy sources.”

full story here from Santiago Times…..

By Benjamin Witte (benwitte@santiagotimes.cl)

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