Plans for the construction of five hydroelectric dams on two rivers in Chile have been dealt a blow after the country's Committee of Ministers rejected the projects' environmental permits.
HidroAysén's plans would see the construction of three dams on the Pascua River and two on the Baker River in Chile's Aysén region. The projects have been vehemently opposed by environmental groups, including the Patagonia Defense Council (CDP), who have called the latest ruling "a landmark" for Chile.
Chile's Minister of agriculture, energy, mining, economy and health voted unanimously to reject the HidroAysén project after a three hour meeting in early June. HidroAysén, which is 51 per cent owned by Endesa Chile and 49 per cent by Colbún, said that it would wait for the ministers' formal resolutions before deciding on its course of action.
HidroAysén would add 2750 MW to Chile's grid, providing much-needed energy to mining operations further north via a new 1900 km-long transmission line.
However CDP says that the environmental cost of the project would be too great because it would damage wild and unspoilt areas of Patagonia.
The projects would take 12 years to construct at a cost of $3.2 billion, according to HidroAysén.
The HidroAysén project was first proposed in 2006 and its environmental impact assessment approved in 2011.