SAO PAULO, June 1 (UPI) -- Brazilian authorities Wednesday awarded a license for construction of the world's third-largest hydroelectric dam, the Belo Monte project.
The decision by the Institute of Environment and Natural Resources will allow the start of plant construction in Brazil's Amazon rainforest, the Jornal do Brasil reported. The $17 billion dam has been in the planning stages since the 1970s.
The project, which has been opposed by environmentalists and native tribal activists, will still have to obtain an operating license before it can go into operation.
The dam is being built by the Northern Energy consortium, led by San Francisco Hydroelectric Co., a subsidiary of Eletrobras, with participation by several other companies.
The Wall Street Journal reported the dam will create reservoirs of about 310 square miles and produce 11 megawatts of electrical power.
Only Brazil's Itaipu and China's Three Gorges dams are bigger.