| LIMA, March 12
LIMA, March 12 Peru is talking with Brazilian
construction giant OAS about resuming construction on a
$4 billion hydroelectric plant that has been stalled since 2011
because of local opposition, an official said on Wednesday.
Jesus Ramirez, general manager of state-run electricity
company Electroperu, said in an interview that discussions about
restarting the controversial 2,000-megawatt Inambari project
started with the company last year.
An OAS representative in Peru said by telephone that the
company did not have any comment.
The megaproject, in the Peruvian Amazon near the border with
Brazil, was halted in June 2011 by the government of former
President Alan Garcia amid protests by nearby indigenous
The project would dam a river and flood lands where people
now live, requiring the relocation of villages.
Inambari, opposed by several local and foreign indigenous
and environmental groups, must be built before four other dams
planned in the region can go forward, Ramirez said.
Ramirez said OAS reached out to Electroperu to help secure
environmental permits and make progress with communities.
"We are talking about creating the right conditions...to
develop these projects socially and environmentally," said
Inambari would generate twice as much electricity as Peru's
biggest hydroelectric plant, Mantaro, and lay the groundwork for
eventually exporting electricity to Brazil - a longstanding goal
of both countries.
Ramirez said Peru is now sitting on 20,000 megawatts of
hydroelectric potential in Amazonian rivers near the border with
Brazil. Other dams planned in the area include Inambari, Tambo
1, Tambo 2 and Paquitzapango.
"These projects need to be developed because they are what
will secure electricity over the long-term," Ramirez said. "They
take 10 to 12 years to finish" and a total investment of around
Fast-growing Peru also needs to ramp up its electrical
production in the near term to meet surging domestic demand and
to power its important mining industry.
Peru is the world's third-biggest copper and silver exporter
and sixth-biggest gold exporter.
But the lack of new electrical generation worries miners
that have invested billions in mega projects set to come online
in coming years, especially in southern Peru.
About half of the Andean country's electricity is now
generated with natural gas from the Camisea fields in southern
Ramirez also said Electroperu is considering seeking private
investment for a $1.2 billion expansion of the Mantaro plant.
(Additional reporting by Mitra Taj; Editing by Ken Wills)