A symbolic ceremony launching the reconstruction of Brazil's Comandante Ferraz Antarctic base was held at the Chilean Antarctic Institute in Punta Arenas with the attendance of top officials from both countries. The Brazilian base, located in King George Island was a total loss back in February 2012 caused by a fire that started at the power room.
The new base will have a cost of 99.6 million dollars and will be built by the China national Electronics Imports and Exports company which won the international bidding process. The company has 540 days to complete the contract that includes buildings covering an area of 5.000 sq meters to lodge 64 people and 18 research laboratories, plus a heliport and wind turbines to power the base.
Comandante Ferraz was inaugurated in February 1984, and was the hub of Brazilian Antarctic scientific research until 2012 when fire destroyed the settlement.
The ceremony was scheduled to be held in the Comandante Ferraz compound but weather impeded flying to King George and the event took place in Punta Arenas and attended by Chile and Brazil defense ministers, Jose Antonio Gomez and Aldo Rebelo. Other officials included Chilean Deputy foreign minister Edgardo Riveros, Magallanes mayor Jorge Flies and on the Brazilian side, Science and Technology minister Celso Pansera; Navy commander in chief Eduardo Bacellar Leal Ferreira, the chair of the Congress' foreign relations and defense committees Jo Moraes and China's Defense Science, Technology and Industry minister Xu Dazhe.
At the founding stone symbolic ceremony and following on words from Defense minister Aldo Rebelo, Chilean authorities thanked their Brazilian counterparts for having invited them and ratified Santiago's full support and cooperation in Antarctic issues.
For the government of Chile this event is of vital significance. From the perspective of Defense, all our capacities and armed forces will always cooperate with Brazil to advance this continent, which means preserving and developing an area so important for peace, science and technology, said Chilean minister Gomez.
Punta Arenas mayor Flies underlined that Comandante Ferraz base will mean more activity for the air link with the Teniente Marsh landing strip in Antarctica, where we are investing in the emergencies system and rebuilding the new jetty at the neighboring Fildes bay.
He added that these will be essential for the building of the Brazilian base and in the meantime with 'our support and from the Chilean Antarctic Institute, Brazilian scientists can continue work with their research”.