Bidding for the project was halted several times before the winning bidder – Norte Energia consortium – was announced late on Tuesday. The project has faced fierce opposition from environmental groups concerned about negative impacts on the ecosystem and wildlife in the region.

The country’s environmental regulator, Ibama, issued a preliminary licence for the project on the Xingu River in February, subject to conditions covering issues relating to water quality, wildlife, sanitation, resettlement, compensation and rehabilitation of degraded areas.

The project, to be located in the state of Para, will help Brazil meet soaring demand for electricity once developed with an installed capacity of 11,233.1MW. The development will consist of three separate sites (Belo Monte, Bela Vista and Pimental).