Canada, not China, dominates energy and mining in the Amazon

Canadian companies have the greatest share of foreign investment in Amazon energy and mining projects while companies headquartered in China control scarcely 10% across the hydropower and extractives sectors, according to new data published by US think-tank the Inter-American Dialogue.

China is the biggest foreign investor in renewable hydroelectricity power in the Amazon but Canadian companies have the most shares across environmentally risky sectors, new data shows.

“I don’t think anyone knew exactly how active Canada was in the Amazon,” said Lisa Viscidi, director of the Dialogue’s energy, climate change and extractive industries programme, adding that the lower level of Chinese participation was surprising.

The collection of data on hydroelectric, oil and gas, and mining in the Amazon aims to identify the companies and banks with projects in a vital ecosystem. The Amazon serves as a critical carbon sink and home to indigenous groups and several million species of plants and animals, according to the report “Energy and Mining in the Amazon”.

Throughout South America, 197 Canadian mining companies own or operate an estimated US$8 billion worth of projects. In an area the report defines as the “biogeographic Amazon” – the cradle of the ecosystem’s biodiversity that extends beyond legal-political boundaries – they control equity shares equivalent to 47 whole projects, the data shows.

At 30, Canadian companies also control the highest number of Amazonian oil blocks of any foreign entity and 24 lie in the Colombian Amazon. A 2017 study led by Boston University found no evidence that Chinese companies perform any better or worse than other nationalities with projects in Latin America. Although, the Dialogue report says, their records vary depending “on the host countries’ own requirements”.

The majority of publicly traded mining companies with projects in Latin America float shares on the Toronto Stock Exchange, which has the greatest number of listed oil and mining companies in the world.

As well as the nationalities of investors, the research collects data on the operational status of projects in sectors with high endemic social and environmental risks, as well as whether they are new, or if participation is through a merger or acquisition. It also records if project owners and operators are state-owned enterprises (SOEs) or private companies.

The Chaglla hydroelectric power plant in Peru

The Chaglla hydroelectric power plant in Peru was built by China Three Gorges Corporation (CTG) and is located over the Huallaga River in Huanuco region, about 415 kilometers away from the capital Lima. It is Peru’s third-biggest hydropower project and has a total installed capacity of 456,000 kilowatts. The plant went into operation in September 2016 and is capable of producing more than 2.51 billion kWh of power annually, providing high-quality clean power and contributing to economic and social development in the country. You can watch a video about the Chaglla dam at this link:


Source: Extract from China Dialogue, 21 June 2021

Cited Report: Energy and Mining in the Amazon.

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