Brazil’s Ibama denies Eletrobras appeal to restart licensing on 8-GW Tapajos hydropower plant

Brazil’s Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources (Ibama) has rejected an appeal from state-owned power company Eletrobras petitioning to restart licensing of the proposed 8,000-MW Sao Luis do Tapajos hydroelectric plant.

Ibama rejected an environmental license for the project in August following reports by public prosecutors that the project would destroy traditional lands of the Munduruku Indians near Itaituba in Brazil’s northern Para state.

The regulatory agency remained staunch in its opposition with Eletrobras’ most recent petition, saying there were “legal and constitutional obstacles.”

The ruling effectively ends hope for Tapajos’ development, with Ibama president Suely Araujo telling state news service Agencia Brasil that “there is no way to continue the permitting process while the controversy surrounding the demarcation of indigenous land is not resolved.”

The US$8.6 billion plant was being developed by state-run utility Eletrobras and would have been the second-largest generating station in Brazil after the 11.2-GW Belo Monte complex.

Sao Luiz do Tapajos was one of more than 250 hydroelectric plants and dams publicly opposed by hundreds of members from four Amazonian tribes in May 2015.

A concession auction for the project’s development was also previously revoked in September 2014 after Brazil’s Ministry of Mines and Energy determined that the proposal did not meet a number of environmental and social criteria.

Sao Luiz do Tapajos is the largest component of the proposed 12,000-MW Tapajos hydroelectric complex on the Tapajos and Jamanxim rivers in northern Brazil. The complex also is to include the 2,300-MW Jatoba, 528-MW Cachoeira dos Patos, 881-MW Jamanxin and 802-MW Cachoeira do Cai projects.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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