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Administration appeals as Belo Monte hydro project construction bid is stalled

An April 20 auction for the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric project in northern Brazil has been delayed by Brazilian judicial authorities. The president's administration has appealed the ruling.

The auction was put on hold by a federal judge in the state of Para, where the dam is to be built, in order to examine petitions submitted by the public prosecutor which claim provisions for environmental protection at the site are inadequate. The ruling also resulted in the suspension of the hydroelectric project's environmental license, the Associated Press reported.

The administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva filed an appeal with a court in Brasilia, and the nation's business community and environmental regulators are supporting the Belo Monte project, wire services reported.

It was not clear when a judge will rule on the government's appeal, according to the state-run Agencia Brasil news agency.

The 11,200-MW hydropower project is expected to begin producing electricity in 2015, and the ministry has estimated the plant will cost around 20 billion reais (US$11.2 billion).

The auction previously has faced delays which stemmed largely from difficulties in securing an environmental license for the project.

Brazil’s environmental authority, Ibama, recently issued a preliminary license for the Belo Monte hydro project, subject to a number of conditions covering environmental concerns and other issues.

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