Belo Monte, Environmental, Latin America

Brazil receives environmental studies of 11,182-MW Belo Monte

Brazil’s environmental agency has received environmental studies for the 11,182-MW Belo Monte hydroelectric project proposed for construction on Brazil’s Xingu River.

State-owned Agencia Brasil said Instituto Brasileiro do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renovaveis (Ibama) reported receiving an environmental impact assessment and an environmental impact report February 27 from national utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras S/A (Eletrobras).

Eletrobras performed the studies in anticipation of a concession auction to build and operate the project, scheduled for September. (HNN 12/11/08) Eletrobras is expected to compete for the concession, but would be compensated for the studies if another bidder were to win the project.

Ibama has 180 days to review the documents and decide whether to grant a permit for construction. After examining whether filing requirements have been met, Ibama is to convene public consultations with communities in the region of the project.

Belo Monte is expected to be completed by April 2014 for an estimated investment of 7 billion reais (US$2.8 billion).

Brazil’s national energy policy council declared in 2008 that hydropower development on the Xingu River would be limited to Belo Monte. The declaration emphasized the importance of the Xingu River area for conservation of biological diversity and protection of native culture. It also called for Eletrobras to conduct anthropological studies on the native communities affected by the project and to hear affected communities.