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Article

12 May 2022

Author:
Mongabay

Argentina: Despite protests, lawsuits and court orders to pause construction, work on dam complex, part of the China-funded Belt and Road Initiative, has continued

Wikimedia Commons

"China-funded dam could disrupt key Argentine glaciers and biodiversity", 12 May 2022

...A hydroelectric dam complex in southern Argentina, one of the country’s largest energy projects, is facing backlash from conservationists and Indigenous communities who are worried about its impact on the surrounding glaciers.

...[I]t may also flood vital wetlands, disrupt the trajectory of some of the world’s largest glaciers found outside of the poles, and destroy ancestral Mapuche land...

The complex is being built by Unión Transitoria de Empresas Represas Patagonia, a partnership between China Gezhouba Group Company and Hidrocuyo S.A., Electroingeniería S.A., with financing from several Chinese development banks.

The project has been incorporated into China’s Belt and Road Initiative...

Throughout 2020, environmental organizations in Argentina wrote letters to China’s Ministry of Commerce and other Chinese authorities to reiterate their complaints about the dam. They never received a response...

Chinese authorities didn’t respond to Mongabay’s request for comment.

...[T]he studies were plagued with inaccuracies and a lack of detail, according to numerous organizations that reviewed them in a lawsuit presented to the Supreme Court...

Argentina’s Ministry of Energy and Mines and Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development didn’t respond to a request for comment for this article...

The Indigenous Mapuche community of Lof Fem Mapu in Santa Cruz filed a lawsuit in 2017 — with 14 other communities joining the case later on — asking that they be properly consulted about the dimensions of the project, since it could negatively impact their cultural patrimony, most notably by altering the flow of the river, which is important to their belief system.

...However, Indigenous leaders say the consultation process was never carried out...

Represas Patagonia didn’t respond to a request for comment. On its website, the sections for environmental impact and community relations are blank...