Group plans to build Belo Monte hydro project for less than previous estimates

The consortium that recently won the tender for Brazil's Belo Monte hydroelectric project plans to build the hydro project for less than the 19 billion reais (US$10.8 billion) cost estimated by the government, wire services reported.

The Norte Energia consortium won the bidding process for the 11,200-MW Amazon dam and hydro project after construction bidding faced several delays due to opposition to the project. The bidding for the Belo Monte dam, to be built on the Xingu River, was halted three times before a final appeal by the government allowed the auction's winner to be announced.

The Norte Energia consortium did not disclose how much the project will cost. Some estimates have placed the project's cost at 20 billion reais (US$11.2 billion) or greater.

The nine-company consortium includes state-controlled Companhia Hidro Eletrica do Sao Francisco, a subsidiary of Eletrobras, wire reports indicate.

The hydropower project is expected to begin producing electricity in 2015.

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