In the late 1960s, large deposits of bauxite were discovered in Pará. (Bauxite is one of the main elements used in the production of aluminium. By 1973 a consortium of Japanese aluminium companies–the Nippon Amazon Aluminium Company–had started negotiations with Companhia do Vale do Rio Doce (the Brazilian state mining and steel company) to set up an aluminium plant by the Tocantins River, in Pará. This is now the largest industrial plant in Latin America.)
Part of the plan was to build a massive hydroelectric dam on the TocantinsRiver to supply electricity for the aluminium plant. The Japanese refused to invest in either the dam or the necessary port facilities but the Brazilian Government did, as it was committed to the development of the region. When work began on the dam in 1977, Electronorte, the regional state electrical company, constructed a purpose-built city for the dam’s workers. It has a population of 60,000 and is a modern city with supermarkets, a hospital and offices. The dam was completed in 1984 and began to back up water in a 200 kilometre long lake which almost reached Marabá.
The Grand Carajas Project is a large development in the east of the Amazonia. It is there because in 1967, large deposits of high grade iron-ore were found. There were also lots of other minerals waiting to be found and developed in the Amazon for example, Diamonds, Bauxite, Gold, Copper, Manganese, Nickel, Tin, Lead and Zinc.
The Grand Carajas Project covers a tenth of Brazil, which is equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom and France combined. The developments there included an iron-ore mine, H E P at Tucurii, the smelting of aluminium and to encourage industry and farming more than 12 000 km of road was developed. The project includes ranching, forestry and mineral extraction.
The Grand Carajas Project was funded by borrowing money from the USA, the World Bank and the European Commission.
The Debt Burden