Uncertainty continues to hang over what to do with all the electricity from the 2,400MW Bakun Dam. Few know for sure if the undersea cables will be actually laid, given the enormous risks involved. Anyway, the electricity for that dam was supposed to go to the peninsula.
So now they have this new plan to build the RM3 billion 940MW Murum Dam as part of the 12-dams-for-Sarawak project. And the award goes to… a Chinese firm. Who is going to use all this electricity? Would that be the aluminium smelter Salco? That’s a joint venture between Rio Tinto and CMS (ring a bell?) And which company is likely to benefit most from the supply of materials for the construction of all these dams?
Wait a minute, what is in the Environmental Impact Assessment? What does it say? Nobody – apart from those involved – knows. Has a Social Impact Assessment been done? What about proper resettlement planning? There are about 1,000 Penan in the area, I believe.
And what about the water catchment areas above the Murum – like at the Danum and Plieran tributaries? Isn’t there some logging, clearing of forest, acacia plantation and oil palm cultivation work going on there? What kind of impact will all that have on the dam? Chew on that.
Who is funding this project? I hope the big banks and financial institutions involved will abide by their sustainable development principles. We will be watching.
This from the Borneo Post:
Chinese firm to build Murum Dam
By The Borneo Post Business Desk Team
RM3 bln 940MW dam project to provide jobs for 5,000 people; ready in five years time
TOWARDS A NEW ERA OF POWER SUFFICIENCY: An architectural impression of the Murum Dam and inset, the Murum Dam facility (powerhouse) will look like once completed.
KUCHING: The proposal from the China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC), a state-owned Chinese investment body, to build Sarawak’s third hydro-power dam in Murum in central Sarawak has been accepted by the Sarawak government.
Sources told The Borneo Post yesterday that the state cabinet made the decision on Thursday last week.
According to the sources, the project cost for the 940MW dam is about RM3 billion and the contract period is five years.
Negotiations will start immediately on its details such as technical and engineering aspects between Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), the state-owned listed power conglomerate, and the Chinese firm.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies have been completed.
However, details of such studies are not immediately available.
The Chinese corporation is the financier, developer and operator of the US$25 billion, 22,500MW Three Gorges Dam now in the final stage of construction in the Yangtze River.
Another Chinese company Sino-Hidro, which is already involved in the Bakun and Bengoh dams in Sarawak, also made a bid for the Murum Dam, one of a series of 12 dams that the state government through SEB plans to develop over the next 12 years to produce about 7,000MW of electricity for state and national needs.
The sources said the target date for completion of the Murum Dam is 2011 and work could start as early as September or end of this year.
SEB went to China thrice this year to make presentation to CTGPC to invite its participation in the development of hydro-power in Sarawak in anticipation of several large energy-intensive industries, including the proposed aluminium smelter plant in Similajau in Bintulu.
With the go-ahead of the Murum Dam project and the on-going 2,400MW Bakun Dam, by the early 2010s Sarawak will have produced a total of about 4,000MW of electricity, largely hydro-power, cutting down on other sources, especially diesel which is becoming increasingly costly per unit of production.
Hydro-power is the cleanest, safest, cheapest in the long run and with the least environmental impact, given today’s available technology.
Sarawak’s first hydro dam is Batang Ai built in the 1970s with capacity to produce about 180MW, with a Japanese yen credit.
It is already supplying electricity to parts of Sarawak. Bakun is the second dam but due to several factors is slightly behind time.
The sources told The Borneo Post that at the height of its construction period as many as 5,000 workers would be employed in the Murum Dam.
The area to be flooded in the Murum Dam is said to be largely uninhabited.