"Brazil's environment agency gave its definitive approval on Wednesday for construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, a controversial $17 billion project in the Amazon that has drawn criticism from native Indians and conservationists.
The regulator, Ibama, issued licenses to the consortium in charge of Belo Monte to build the massive dam on the Xingu River, a tributary to the Amazon.
The government has said the 11,200-megawatt project, due to start producing electricity in 2015, is crucial to provide power to Brazil's fast-growing economy. It will be the world's third biggest hydroelectric dam after China's Three Gorges and Itaipu on the border of Brazil and Paraguay.
In January, Ibama had issued a preliminary license allowing the construction site to be set up.
Since then the project has been halted and resumed several times due to court injunctions obtained by environmentalists and native Indians opposing the dam."
Leonardo Goy and Raymond Colitt report for Reuters June 2, 2011.