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Court halts work at Brazil's 11.2-GW Belo Monte hydropower project

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Brazil's Regional Federal Court of the 1st Region has granted an injunction canceling a license for the construction of the 11.2-GW Belo Monte hydropower plant.

The court said it upheld an action by the Federal Public Ministry, filed in 2011, which questioned the project's approval by Brazil's Institute of the Environment and Natural Resoures (Ibama).

According to a statement from the ministry, "the license was granted without the conditions for the previous phase -- the preliminary license -- having been fulfilled."

A ruling from Regional Federal Judge Souza Prudente, who previously halted work at the project in August 2012, said developers failed to address issues including water quality, construction equipment impacts, education, sanitation, navigation along the Xingu River, and indigenous land demarcation before approval was granted by Ibama.

The court said developer Norte Energia will be fined about US$229,000 per day if it fails to adhere to the ruling.

The controversial Belo Monte project has experienced a number of delays throughout its construction, including occupations by indigenous groups and other stoppages caused by questions about the legitimacy of its approvals.

Brazilian courts halted construction of the 1.8-GW Teles Pires plant in September for similar reasons.

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