Brazil's Belo Monte dam reaches deal on power generation

SAO PAULO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - The operator of Brazil’s Belo Monte hydro dam reached an agreement with environmental authorities on Monday that will allow it to maintain energy generation water flows in exchange for investments to mitigate environmental and other impacts.

In January, environmental agency Ibama ordered Belo Monte operator Norte Energia to increase water flow into the Xingu River over concerns about harm to the environment and local communities, according to documents reviewed by Reuters.

Environmental and indigenous advocates have criticized the construction of the Belo Monte dam - the fourth largest hydroelectric plant in the world - for overly reducing the water levels in the Xingu River, damaging the local environment and traditional fishing.

On Monday, Ibama and Norte Energia said in separate statements that the dam operator would invest 157.5 million reais ($29.4 million) over the next three years in environmental conservation and assistance for the local population. In exchange, the company would not need to increase outflows to the Xingu River.

Norte Energia is 49.98% owned by state-owned utility Eletrobras with other shareholders including miner Vale SA, Light SA, Neoenergia SA and CEMIG. ($1 = 5.3655 reais) (Reporting by Gabriel Araujo; writing by Jake Spring; editing by Richard Pullin)