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Plans Studied For Nicaragua Canal

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

12 June 2012

Nicaragua has received interest from six nations prepared to invest in the construction of a new shipping canal linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Nicaragua's legislative assembly is currently examining proposals for the USD30bn joint venture, with majority ownership of the new canal to be retained by the Nicaraguan state.

Nicaragua, one of the region's least developed nations, has said it has already received early expressions of interest from Japan, South Korea, China, Russia, Venezuela and Brazil, during recent discussions.

The government foresees that the project could be completed by as early as 2019, and could handle 573 million metric tons by 2025 - substantially more than the record of 322.1 million tons of cargo handled by the Panama Canal in 2011.

Even though a significant expansion of the Panama Canal is presently underway, Nicaragua's canal would be able to cater for ships too large to pass through the Panama Canal; vessels of up to 400 meters in length and 60 meters in width would be able to transit through the new waterway.

However, neighbouring Costa Rica has said that it must first approve the plans, as one of the six proposed routes will use the San Juan river, which forms the border between the two countries. Costa Rica is concerned that the proposed canal will cause substantial ecological damage within its territory.

TAGS: marine

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