EFERio de Janeiro

China-based CEIEC has been awarded a contract to rebuild Brazil's research station in Antarctica, a facility completely destroyed in a 2012 fire that left two dead, officials said Wednesday.

The Chinese company offered to complete the work for $99.6 million, the lowest price, the Brazilian navy said in the official gazette.

Two other companies participated in the process, which was launched in July 2014.

Defense Minister Jacques Wagner said it was a "total coincidence" that CEIEC was selected during a two-day trip to Brazil by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who wraps up his visit on Wednesday.

An earlier tender for the rebuilding of the station that was only open to Brazilian companies failed due to lack of interest.

The navy expects that CEIEC will be able to start the project in December, at the onset of the Southern Hemisphere summer, and that weather conditions will allow work to proceed until at least March 2016.

The new facility will cover a 4,500-sq.-meter (48,375-sq.-foot) area and have the capacity to house 64 people.

The navy-coordinated Brazilian Antarctic Program was launched in 1982 and encompasses research in the fields of oceanography, geology, biology and marine biology, among others.