Belo Monte hydro project construction auction to proceed following stall

A Brasilia judge overturned a decision that could have delayed construction of the 11,200-MW Belo Monte hydro project in Brazil's Amazon region, wire services reported. The April 20 auction for construction of the project will proceed.

The judge reversed a decision to suspend contract bidding and overturned the suspension of the hydro project's environmental license, the Associated Press reported.

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 administration of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva filed an appeal with a court in Brasilia.

A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors acting on behalf of dam opponents said the decision was being analyzed and that an appeal would be filed.

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

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