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Chile's AES Gener gets $1.2 bln loan for Alto Maipo power project

SANTIAGO, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Chilean energy company AES Gener SA said on Wednesday it had obtained a loan for up to $1.217 billion in a major step in financing its Alto Maipo hydropower project near Santiago.

The $2.05 billion project is 60 percent owned by AES Gener, while the rest is held by Chilean miner Antofagasta Minerals .

The complex, which has faced some opposition from local and environmental groups, will be developed about 50 kilometers (31 miles) east of capital city Santiago and have 531 megawatts of installed capacity once its two generating units are complete.

The project has already received an environmental permit.

"The signing of this financing agreement constitutes a major milestone for the project's development, as it will allow for the startup of its main works," said AES Gener Chief Executive Officer Luis Felipe Ceron.

A nebulous regulatory framework has left several major power generation projects in limbo, and there is strong public opposition to large coal-fired plants and hydropower complexes.

That has put billions of dollars of mining investment at risk in the world's top copper producer.

The 20-year project financing deal was offered by a syndicate of banks including Overseas Private Investment Corp, the Inter-American Development Bank, the International Finance Corp, CorpBanca, Banco de Credito e Inversiones , Banco Itau Chile, Banco del Estado de Chile, KfW Ipex-Bank GmbH and DNB Bank ASA.

Joint venture partners AES Gener and Antofagasta said they would use their own capital to help pay for the portion of the project's development not covered by loan financing.