Vale close to agreeing share in Amazon dam: source

BRASILIA Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:23am EDT

A woman walks past a column at the Brazilian mining company Vale's building in Rio de Janeiro, February 12, 2008. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

A woman walks past a column at the Brazilian mining company Vale's building in Rio de Janeiro, February 12, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Sergio Moraes

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BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian mining giant Vale is close to joining the consortium that will build the controversial $17 billion Belo Monte dam in the Amazon region, a source in the group told Reuters on Monday.

Vale is likely to take over the 9 percent stake in the project that had been held by an energy subsidiary of meat-packing firm Bertin that announced its withdrawal from the project in February, the source said.

"The deal should be finished within 30 days," the source from the Norte Energia consortium said.

A spokesperson for Vale, the world's largest iron ore producer, said the company was still analyzing the project and had no further comment.

Vale appointed Murilo Ferreira this month as its new chief executive to replace Roger Agnelli, whose relationship with the government soured as politicians said the company does not do enough to invest in Brazil.

Vale is expected to gain the right to use a share of the anticipated 11,200 megawatts of power that Belo Monte will produce, making it the world's third-largest hydroelectric dam. The mining firm had been part of another consortium that lost out in the auction for the project a year ago.

The Brazilian government's decision to go ahead with the dam's construction has sparked protests in Brazil and abroad over the massive project's impact on the environment and native Indian tribes in the forest region.

The Norte Energia consortium building the dam is led by Brazilian state-controlled power utility Eletrobras.

(Reporting by Leonardo Goy; writing by Stuart Grudgings; editing by Carol Bishopric)

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