Malaysia and China agree to $11 billion deal to build mines, dams in Borneo
Malaysia and China have agreed to an $11 billion deal that will turn a vast area of Sarawak, a Malaysian state in northern Borneo, into an industrial corridor for mining and energy development, reports The Financial Times.
The suite of projects includes at least four hydroelectric dams (up to 28,000MW of power), aluminum-smelting and steel plants, coal mines (1.46 billion metric tons), and natural gas development (nearly 41 billion cubic feet), according the state government.
The scheme is expected to drive industrial development in a part of Malaysia that is still largely undeveloped — nomadic tribes and rare wildlife still stalk rainforests in the area. Environmentalists say the projects will displace indigenous groups and destroy important ecosystems, endangered biodiversity and contributing to Malaysia’s surging greenhouse gas emissions. Some critics argue the plan also marks a move away from technology and knowledge-based industries of peninsular Malaysia, towards energy-intensive extractive industries. But with Malaysia reeling from an exodus of capital over the past two years, the projects have strong support at the state and federal levels. Officials hope the plan will attract foreign investment to the region.