The dry season has arrived in the Amazon and Norte Energia, the consortium that will build the Belo Monte dam and hydroelectric power plants began preliminary preparations on June 23. Spokespersons report that heavy machinery (37 machines) will be in action at the location known as Sítio Belo Monte, in the municipality of Vitória do Xingu, which lies some 50 kilometers from the main city in the region, Altamira.
A construction site will be the first order of business: housing for workers, mess halls, offices, a medical center, warehouses, repair shops – all in all, a small city to house thousands of workers.
The consortium says that all heavy machinery will tested before it is used to ensure that it meets environmental standards with regard to emission levels.
Meanwhile, Norte Energia also announced that Vale, one of the world’s largest mining companies, will join the consortium with a 9% participation.
At the same time further shifts in consortium shareholders are expected following the announcement that construction firms Cetenco, Contern, Queiroz Galvão, Mendes Júnior and Serveng will be leaving.
In other news from Belo Monte, a court in the state of Pará (where the dam is located) has ruled that the construction will not invade or affect indigenous areas.
The decision was a blow to environment activists who have filed numerous lawsuits to halt the construction claiming that it will cause irreparable damage to local Indian communities.
The motion in this case was filed by the social assistance group linked to the Catholic Church, Cimi (Conselho Indigenista Missionário), that works directly with the Indians.
Foreign Trade Surges
Brazilian exports during the first half of this year are up 31.6%, compared to the same period in 2010, powered by strong performances in May and June.
In June exports reached a historical high for the month of US$ 23.692 billion, up 38.6%, compared to June 2010. With imports in June at US$ 19.262 billion, up 29.9%, compared to June 2010, the June trade surplus was US$ 4.43 billion, the highest monthly total for the year. The June trade surplus was up a significant 95.4%, compared to the surplus in June 2010.
Brazil’s foreign trade surplus for the year up to June is now US$ 12.985 billion, up 64.7%, compared to the same period last year.
According to Tatiana Lacerda Prazeres at the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade, the “good moment,” is due to a record surge in exports of three product categories: raw material or commodities (“produtos básicos”) – iron ore, coffee beans, crude petroleum, soybeans and meats, which rose 44%; semi-manufactured products: gold and iron items, soy products, sugar, leather and animal skins, which rose 29.7%; and manufactured products: fuel oil, plastics and vehicles, which rose 19.1%.
Ms Prazeres points out that during the 124 working days between January and the end of June, Brazilian exports to all regions were up with the highlight being Asia where there was an increase of 37.9%, compared to the same period in 2010, with exports going from US$ 24.386 billion (2010), to US$ 33.909 billion (2011).
China paid US$ 20 billion for Brazilian imports between January and June this year, an increase of 47.6%, compared to the same period last year.
And in the first half of this year, China imported 16.9% of all Brazilian exports, compared to 15.1% during the same period in 2010. China is now Brazil’s biggest trade partner.
Brazilian exports to Latin America and the Caribbean were up 24%, to over US$ 26.5 billion; up 31.4% to over US$ 25.5 billion to the European Union in the first half of this year.
The United States was the second biggest importer of Brazilian goods in the first half of 2011, with US$ 11.753 billion, up 29.4%, followed by Argentina with US$ 10.439, up 32.6%.
State-owned power company UTE from Uruguay moved closer to linking with Brazil’s Eletrobrás for wind projects after its board gave the go-ahead to explore a partnership.
“Recharge” an alternative energy publication that last year revealed UTE had begun preliminary talks with the Brazilian utility over jointly investing in wind farms in the region.
UTE’s board has now sanctioned the partnership in principle and authorized an analysis of a tie-up, which could see projects developed with Eletrobrás in Uruguay and elsewhere.
Eletrobrás is aggressively seeking to establish itself internationally, with a goal of securing 10% of revenues from outside Brazil by 2020.
UTE has also announced plans for a 100 MW facility as part of its goal of building up to 300 MW of wind capacity by 2015. No further details of the project were given.
Alongside its own initiatives, UTE has run tenders for 150 MW worth of wind power and is planning a second round for the same capacity.
It aims to bring the wind capacity in operation in Uruguay to at least 500 MW by 2015.