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Chinanews.com:Environmental Permit Granted for Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal, Canal Project Poised for a New Phase of Development 2015-11-9 10:55


The Chief Project Advisor of HKND Group, Bill Wild (second from left) receiving the Environmental Permit.
Photograph: HKND Group

November 6 (Chinanews.com) - The Government of Nicaragua announced its approval of the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal Project and issued the Environmental Permit for the Project on the morning of November 5, Nicaragua local time. This marks a major milestone for Hong Kong-based HKND Group who was granted the sole concession rights to develop and operate the Canal. 

The approval ceremony was held in Managua, the capital city of Nicaragua on the morning of November 5. Manuel Colonel Kautz, President of the Nicaragua Canal and Development Project Commission announced that after a round of voting, the Canal Commission decided to grant HKND Group the Environmental Permit of the Nicaragua Grand Canal Project. Following that, Dr. Paul Oquist, the Executive Secretary of the Canal Commission and the Private Secretary for National Policies to Presidency of Nicaragua deliver the Environmental Permit to the Chief Project Advisor of HKND Group, Bill Wild from Australia.

The ESIA report for the Canal Project of Nicaragua, comprising of 14 volumes with 11,000 pages and 2.7 million words, covers a wide range of scientific disciplines including geology, soil, groundwater, surface water, air, noise, vibration, marine/freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems, as well as social resources, community health, cultural heritage, local economy and employment. Telemaco Talavera, spokesman of the Canal Commission emphasized that the ESIA, carried out by a world leading sustainability consultancy company with the efforts of scientists from all over the world is of high scientific and technical standard. After in-depth analysis, the Canal Commission approved this report.

After receiving the Permit, Wild stated that “the ESIA process has been exhaustive and we spent longer completing it than we original envisaged, because we listened to the input we received about the design and made various changes that have improved it. Our commitment has always been to prepare an ESIA that meets and exceeds all of the Terms of Reference and fully satisfies International Best Practice. We are satisfied that the report does all of those things and that we have produced an ESIA that the people of Nicaragua can have total confidence in. We’re really pleased that the Project has been receiving sincere support from many sectors of the country, and can now move forward with full speed.”

Pang Kwok Wai, Executive Vice President of HKND Group, said in an interview that obtaining the Environmental Permit is a milestone in the development of the Project, and also a crucial threshold in terms of International Best Practice compliance at the design phase. “Currently the Canal Project is poised to head into a new phase of development in full swing.”

The approval of the ESIA report has brought about a successful conclusion to the environmental feasibility studies of the Project. In June 2014, McKinsey & Company completed the commercial feasibility study; while the technical feasibility study, led by China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group, were also accomplished in December of the same year. With the recent approval of the ESIA, the Nicaragua Canal Project has been considered feasible from economics, engineering and environmental perspectives and has entered a new phase of comprehensive development and construction.

According to the design, width and depth of the proposed Nicaraguan Canal after completion will dwarf that of the Panama Canal, allowing Nicaragua to accommodate vessels up to 25,000 TEU, super tankers of 320,000 dwt and bulk carriers of 400,000 dwt. The Canal will satisfy the requirement of constantly growing trade demands for the bulk cargo, and energy commodities in particular, and make outstanding contributions to the global energy conservation.

Lock construction and bulk excavation will be initiated by the end of 2016, which will mark the official launch of the major works. It is expected that the Canal will be completed within 5 years after commencement of the main works.

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