The Chinese company picked to build a $40 billion inter-oceanic canal across Nicaragua has presented studies saying the project will have minimal environmental and social impact.

HKND Group official Zhu Xiaoya says construction is set to begin Dec. 22 as planned, with a port project on the country's southern Pacific coast.

Some community and environmental groups have expressed concern about the canal and its fast-track approval. The route was announced in July, and teams began surveying it the following month.

Victor Campos of the Centro Humboldt environmental group said Thursday it seems premature to declare the project will do minimal harm. He warned that reversing any damage would be difficult.