Construction has begun on the largest hydroelectric development project in northern Ontario in over 40 years.

Dubbed the Lower Matagami Project, the new development will nearly double the output of the four hydro stations already on the river by adding nearly 438 megawatts to their output.

The $2.6 billion project will bring the Lower Mattagami’s output up to 924 megawatts when the construction is completed in approximately five years.

The project has been in negotiations with the Ontario Cree community for over 20 years as many within the Moose Cree First Nation had opposed the development previously.

In the deal, struck between the Cree and Ontario Power Generation, the Cree can get up to 25% ownership of the project. This means they can realize an additional 25% of the revenue generated from the increased output.