Ibama said that the conditional approvals of the environmental licences clears the way the federal government to auction concessions for the two hydro schemes this year.

The Santo Antonio and Jirau schemes are designed to have capacities of 3150MW and 3300MW and reservoirs with surface areas of 258km2 and 271.3km2, respectively. Electricity from the scheme would be transmitted to Porto Velho.

Conditions on the environmental licences include: removal of cofferdams built during construction works to ensure sufficient river flows for sediments and fish larvae; establishing effective monitoring of sedimentation, fish spawning activities, and pollutants such as mercury.

Earlier this year federal prosecutors filed an action questioning the environmental licensing process for the 6450MW Madeira schemes in the north west of Brazil, near the border with Bolivia. The complaint was that the developers, utility Furnas and construction group Odebrecht, had not included the transmission lines in their environmental impact study.

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