The emergence of Mendes Júnior’s is directly linked to the growth and development of Brazil. Throughout its development, the company has hired more than 1 million employees, built 40% of the installed hydroelectric potential in the country, 15,000 kilometers of highways, railways, subway lines, refineries, oil platforms, and has operated in various other countries with different cultures.
Engineer Dr. José Mendes Júnior announced the founding of Mendes Júnior in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais.
Furnas Hydroelectric Plant
Mendes Júnior was invited to build the clay core of the Furnas Dam, in the state of Minas Gerais. The dam was inaugurated in the 1960s. This hydroelectric plant currently provides energy to (an area equivalent to) 51% of Brazilian homes. In an environment previously dominated by foreign companies, this venture paved the way for Brazilian companies to begin taking on large- scale projects throughout the country.
The Expansion Period
During Brazil’s resurgence of investment in infrastructure and industrialization between 1966 and 1972, Mendes Júnior built the following hydroelectric plants: Cachoeira Dourada on the border between Goiás and Minas Gerais, Rio da Casca III in Mato Grosso, Jaguara on the border between Minas Gerais and São Paulo, and Boa Esperança in Piauí. In Vitória, Espírito Santo, Mendes Júnior built Porto de Tubarão, the world's largest exporter of iron ore.
Santa Isabel Hydroelectric Plant (Bolivia)
Mendes Júnior started operating internationally in 1969 with the Santa Isabel Hydroelectric Plant in Cochabamba, Bolivia, This hydroelectric was constructed between 1969 and 1973 and required the excavation of 5,500 meters of tunnels under the Andes Mountains. With this project Mendes Júnior became the first Brazilian company to work internationally on a project financed by the World Bank.
One of Mendes Júnior´s most known large-scale projects is the Rio-Niterói Bridge, which was built in consortium with the companies Camargo Corrêa and Rabelo, between 1971 and 1974. This 13,900 meter long structure stretches over 8,900 meters of water, and required 455,000 cubic meters of concrete and 12,500 workers.
In a project conceived under the National Development Plan (PND), Mendes Júnior was responsible for building more than half of the 1,260 km of the highway for the first stage of the Trans-Amazonian Highway. The greatest challenges were intense rainfall and, in certain areas, inaccessibility to areas where food for the workers had to be flown in.
Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant
In 1973, Mendes Júnior started the construction of the Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant, then the largest power plant in the world. Mendes Júnior was one of the leaders of this great project, which now provides almost 20% of the energy consumed in Brazil and more than 70% of the energy consumed in Paraguay.
Highway in Mauritania
In 1975, Mendes Júnior signed the largest contract that had ever been drawn up for a project in Africa to build the main highway in Mauritania. This highway is 600 km long and connects the capital, Nouakchott, to Kiffa, the country´s industrial center.
One of the project’s biggest challenges was the fact that the highway crossing the Sahara Desert generated the immense challenge of working in an extremely harsh climate and geological conditions. However, with competence, creativity, technology and skill, the company won a tender for the contract against 7 other competitors and completed the project in 1979, 112 days ahead of schedule.
Pioneer in offshore work
The presence of Mendes Júnior in the offshore segment started out with the construction of the Ubarana platform (1976). From then on, the Company continued expanding, building platforms such as Pampo (Bahia), Camorim (Sergipe), Carapeba (Bahia/Rio de Janeiro) and Pargo, among others. The Company also provides offshore maintenance services.
Railway/Railroad in Iraq
In 1978, Mendes Júnior began the construction of the Baghdad-Akashat-Alqaim Railway, a US$ 1.3 billion project, connecting three important Middle Eastern cities, Baghdad, Akashat, and Alaqaim. The railway’s 515 kilometers were built to connect Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, to the city of Al Qaim on the Syrian border, and continue on to the Akashat phosphate mine in Syria. In 1985, the Baghdad-Akashat railroad was delivered to Iraq’s Ministry of Transport.
Expansion in the Middle East
In addition to the Baghdad-Akashat Railway, which started in the late 1970s and finished in 1985, Mendes Júnior was also contracted to build the Iraqi Expressway between 1981 and 1986. The company was also responsible for a new pumping station on the historic Euphrates River, as part of the Sifão Project, which started in 1984. These three major projects demanded immense and complex logistic planning, and established Mendes Júnior internationally as a major player in the heavy construction market. At the time, there were about 10,000 workers who were living in 725 houses, and 744 living quarters. Additionally, a hospital, schools, a gym and a supermarket were specially built by Mendes Júnior to accommodate such a large work force.
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Buildings and Projects in the Southeast
In 1983 Mendes Júnior Edificações was created. The company specialized in civil construction and real estate development with the objective to explore new markets. Shortly after its founding, the organization started the São Paulo’s subway project. In 1989, the company completed the Latin America Memorial in São Paulo, which was designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer. Mendes Júnior was also responsible for the construction of the Sambódromo, in Rio de Janeiro, which is the Carnival runway with several independent concrete structures for the spectators. This project was also designed by Niemeyer, and it was inaugurated in 1984.
During the same period, Mendes Júnior worked on the Pampo offshore platform, located in the Campos Basin, in Rio de Janeiro, and built the Confins International Airport in the metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais.
José Mendes Júnior Steel Plant
In 1985, Mendes Júnior inaugurated the José Mendes Júnior steel plant, in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais. The plant was a technological wonder in the market.
Operations in Chile
The objective in 1989 was to strengthen Mendes Júnior’s presence in the South American market. That year, operations began in Chile with the expansion of the Los Bronces Copper Mine, only 60 km from the country’s capital, Santiago.
Focus on Oil and Gas
While Mendes Júnior was developing projects abroad, its national operations increasingly focused on gas and oil projects. Through contracts with Petrobras, the company worked on the Macaé Business Center, in Rio de Janeiro, and on several gas pipelines, such as Gasfor (Bolivia-Brazil), Cabiúnas-Barra do Furado (Rio de Janeiro), Adutora Guandu-REDUC (Rio de Janeiro), Natural Gas Processing Unit-UPGN (Alagoas), in addition to projects for the REDUC and REFAP units.
Industrial and Infrastructure Business
The 1990s were important for the expansion of operations in the industrial market through projects such as those in partnership with the former Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, known today as VALE. During this period, Mendes Júnior´s construction projects were fine examples of the company’s engineering excellence. Examples of those projects are as follows: Port of Vila do Conde and Rio Capim Caulim Mineral Pipeline, both in Barcarena, in the state of Pará. The company was also responsible for the construction of the Belo Horizonte Metrô, the metro system serving the city of Belo Horizonte; the Pinheiros branch office of the Social Service of Commerce (SESC); and the cleanup of the Tietê River’s channel in São Paulo.
Expansion in Chile
In the 1990s, Mendes Júnior consolidated its presence in Chile. The company was responsible for the following projects: the Santiago Subway System (1994-1999), the Collahuasi Ore Pipeline (1997-1998), the La Florida Water Treatment Station (1998-1999), the Corrales Tunnels (1997-1999), and the Puclaro Dam (1996-2000).
Hydroelectric Plant in China
Mendes Júnior made history by being the first Brazilian company to sign a contract for construction in China. The biggest challenges were to build the dam and to electromechanically assemble the Tianshenggiao I Hydroelectric Plant (TSQ - I) spillway. Presently, TSQ - I is the second largest concrete face rock-fill dam (CFRD) in the world, and the largest in Asia.
Mendes Júnior was the first company in Latin America to be awarded the integrated certification of compliance with the ISO 9001 (Quality) certification, ISO 14001 (Environment) certification, SA8000 (Social Responsibility) certification, and OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health and Safety) certification. In 2007, the Company was awarded the integrated recertification for these standards and again in 2010 and 2013.
São Paulo’s Capital Landmark
Mendes Júnior was the company responsible for the construction of the world's first curved two-lane bridge, Octavio Frias de Oliveira. This unique cable-stayed highway bridge has two lanes. Each lane is a 1,200 m long, and it is supported by a single concrete mast. Due to the complexity of the project, Mendes Júnior utilized cutting-edge engineering technology.
Expansion in the Brazilian Midwest, North and Northeast Regions
One of the achievements in the Midwest region is the current construction of one of the World Cup 2014’s venues, the Arena Pantanal stadium in Cuiabá, in the state of Mato Grosso, In the Northeast, Mendes Júnior is currently building Hemobrás in Goiana, in the state of Pernambuco. Hemobrás is the first factory in Brazil and the largest in Latin America to produce blood products. The company is also participating in the duplication of the highway BR-101, in Pernambuco, as well as in the irrigation project of the Guadalupe Plateaus in the state of Piauí. In the Southeast, the company inaugurated the southern section of the Mário Covas Beltway in São Paulo. Another challenging project managed by Mendes Júnior was the Tancredo Neves Administrative City, the new headquarters of the Minas Gerais Government, and the Digital TV Tower in Brasilia – both designed by the architect Oscar Niemeyer.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Mendes Júnior is present in all regions of the country, with more than 35 ongoing projects. Among them is the São Francisco River Integration Project that will redirect water flow to the Northeast’s drought area. The company is responsible for building three pumping stations in Pernambuco and for the construction of Meta 1 Norte, a canal of about 130 km stretching from the city of Cabrobó in the state of Pernambuco to Jati in the state of Ceara. The company has also started the construction of the first section of the northern part of the Mário Covas beltway in São Paulo.