15 July 2002 – Friday’s auction of rights to build eight new hydroelectric plants with a combined installed capacity of 1600 MW attracted bids largely from electricity -intensive industrial groups.

BHP Billington and Companhia de Rio Doce (CVRD) bid for the 1000 MW northern project along with the sole utility Tractebel, which teamed up with aluminium producer Alcoa.

Alcan, the Canadian aluminium producer, won three of the eight 35-year concessions. Total bids amounted to R10m ($3.6m) but the eight projects are due to translate to a total investment of some $1.3bn.

The government plan to boost capacity is an effort to avoid a repetition of the energy crisis that led to power rationing a year ago. Heavy energy users were forced to cut electricity consumption by 25 per cent.