Brazil's lower house has authorised the federal government to carry out environmental and social impact studies for the 11,181MW Belo Monte hydroelectric project on the Xingu river, in the northern Amazon state of Para.

Approval is still however needed by the senate, as the reservoir to be created by the US$4B project will flood a part of indigenous population reserves.

The project will also include canals and locks to make the river navigable since the reservoir will have to cover an area of 440km2.

Belo Monte and the 7480MW Madeira hydroelectric complex proposed by federal power holding company Eletrobrás are two of the largest hydro and infrastructure projects in the country, and both have been opposed by local indigenous populations.