Breaking: Brazilian court reinstates operating license for 11.2-GW Belo Monte hydroelectric plant

Belo Monte Hydropower Plant

A Brazilian federal court today revoked an injunction set by a lower court that suspended an operating license for the 11.2-GW Belo Monte hydropower project earlier this month.

Belo Monte’s developer, Norte Energia, lost the license per orders from Federal Justice of Altamira Maria Carolina Valente do Carmo two weeks ago amidst allegations of violating human rights.

Reinstatement of the operating license will allow Norte Energia to begin power generation at Belo Monte in the coming weeks, though the plant is not expected to be fully complete until at least 2019.

Belo Monte has faced controversy throughout its development.

Also earlier this month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights accepted a suit against the Brazilian government earlier this month, demanding a response to grievances expressed by Brazil’s indigenous groups.

In addition to widespread opposition to the project, Norte Energia has faced worksite occupationsapproval cancelationsworker deaths and court-ordered work stoppages.

Most recently, Brazil’s Institute of the Environment and Natural Resources (IBAMA) denied an operating license for the plant, saying its developer, Norte Energia, had failed to meet conditions required for its approval.

Budgeted at US$26 billion, Belo Monte is being built on the Xingu River in Brazil’s northern Para State and will be the world’s third largest hydroelectric complex when completed. Belo Monte has a completion deadline of 2018, though Norte Energia filed a request for a construction extension this past June.

A federal court rejected a request in July from from a public prosecutor to suspend work on the project because Norte Energia was accused of failing to consult properly with aboriginal groups potentially affected by Belo Monte.

For more news from Brazil, visit here.


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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for

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