Oded Distel, Head of Israel NewTech, visited Brazil, exploring opportunities for cooperation in the water and alternative energy sectors, as well as the mining industry, in the aftermath of one of the country’s most severe environmental disasters.
In November of 2015 Brazil suffered one of the worst environmental disasters in its history: the Fundão tailings mining dam in the River Doce Basin collapsed, releasing 40-62m cubic meters of sediment from iron ore extraction down a mountainside. The toxic mixture of arsenic, aluminum, lead and mercury roared down the river, killing 12 people, rendering thousands homeless and spilling the toxic mixture into the ocean, where it has spread for hundreds of kilometers, leaving immeasurable ecological damage in its wake.
“Following the Rio Doce incident, actions have been taken by the Brazilian authorities in order to minimize the damage and prevent future disasters. Israel can contribute to this effort with its know-how in environmental technologies and Oded’s visit was a good opportunity to discuss those issues here in Minas Gerais. ,” explains Israel’s Consul for Economic Affairs in Rio de Janeiro, Daniel Kolbar.
Israel’s team from Israel NewTech and the Foreign Trade Administration, including Kolbar and Israel’s Consul for Economic Affairs in São Paulo Boaz Albaranes, are bringing Israeli water expertise to Brazil’s doorstep. This month Israel NewTech Head Oded Distel attended a number of seminar events in Brazil, with a goal to promote WATEC (the large international water conference and exhibition to take place in Tel Aviv in September), and discuss opportunities and sustainable solutions for Brazil’s mining sector.
The seminars were attended by the leading industry and government figures from Brazil’s water and energy sectors, and presented an opportunity for Distel to present on a variety of Israeli technologies, including water purification and treatment, as well as renewable energy solutions including smart city planning, biofuels, smart vehicles and smart parking. The events included panels led jointly by Oded Distel and leaders of Brazil’s energy sector, such as ENEL, one of the largest private companies active in Brazil’s electricity sector.
One main area of interest for Brazil, beyond water crisis management and alternative energy, is water conservation and management. “In Brasilia there is one day a week where the water supply is simply cut off,” explains Israel’s Consul for Economic Affairs in São Paulo Boaz Albaranes. “This extreme measure goes to show how bad the water shortage situation in this area really is.”
Brazil’s water sector has already identified Israel as a leading source of potential solutions to its water challenges. A delegation from Sao Paulo’s water utility, SABESP (Companhia de Saneamento Básico do Estado de São Paulo S.A), which serves a population over three times the size of all of Israel, visited Israel one year ago. A delegation from SABESP is now back in Israel, visiting Hagichon in advanced discussions for cooperation.
“One of our main areas of activity at Israel NewTech, beyond spreading the word on Israel’s water and alternative energy technologies, is actually ‘developing’ new markets for them,” explains Oded Distel. “We have done this successfully with the oil & gas, pharmaceutical, food & beverage and paper production industries. These are all heavy consumers of water and energy, which also create huge amounts of waste, and can be greatly helped by advanced technologies from Israel. The mining industry is another such sector, and Brazil is the perfect place to begin implementing advanced Israeli technologies to improve efficiency and protect against potential future ecological disasters,” concludes Distel.