Brazil's environmental protection agency Ibama has awarded a preliminary environmental license for the US$941M, 1087MW Estreito hydroelectric project in the northern state of Tocantins.

Granting of clearance for the project was delayed until the project’s sponsor Ceste completed additional public hearings in the region that will be affected by the plant and its 550km2 reservoir. Public hearings were held again in January and February this year.

After meeting Ibama’s requirements, Ceste will need to obtain an installation license before starting construction works.

The joint venture sponsoring the project includes the utility Tractebel Energía and mining conglomerate CVRD (30% each), US aluminum maker Alcoa (19.1%), Australian mining company BHP Billiton (16.5%) and Brazilian engineering firm Camargo Corrêa (4.4%).