HomeBase MetalsIvanhoe Mines begins hydropower supply from first of three upgrade projects

Ivanhoe Mines begins hydropower supply from first of three upgrade projects

Ivanhoe Mines reported on Wednesday that the Mwadingusha hydropower plant began supplying an initial 11 MW of power to the national grid in the DRC.

The upgrading is part of a programme planned to eventually overhaul and boost output from a total of three hydropower plants – is being conducted by Ivanhoe Mines and its joint-venture partner, Zijin Mining Group, in conjunction with the DRC’s state-owned power company, La Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNEL).

Ivanhoe Mines notes that the completed upgrading programme could produce a combined 200 MW of long-term, clean electricity for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC’s) national grid, while also supporting the development and production of copper from the Kamoa project.

Mwadingusha hydropower plant and sub-station
Mwadingusha hydropower plant and sub-station

At Mwadingusha, electricity now is being produced by the No. 1 turbine generator – the first of six installed at the dam’s power plant that are being upgraded and modernised.

It is the first step in a programme based on an initial 2011 memorandum of understanding, and subsequent 2014 agreement, between Ivanhoe and SNEL.

Completion of the full upgrading and modernisation of Mwadingusha’s five other generating units is underway is expected to restore Mwadingusha to its installed output capacity of approximately 71 MW of power for the national grid, since originally being commissioned in 1930.

The upgrading work is being undertaken by a partnership between SNEL and Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC, a subsidiary of Kamoa.

A ceremony last week marking the resumption of output from the first generator was attended by prominent officials, including the Governor of Haut-Katanga Province Jean-Claude Kazembe Musonda; Haut-Katanga’s Minister of Mines Professor Willy Kitobo Samsoni; and members of the senior managements of SNEL and Ivanhoe Mines.

Ivanhoe Mines executive chairman Robert Friedland says a dependable power supply is essential to planned production at Kamoa.

This first installation of modern power generating equipment at Mwadingusha is an important milestone in helping to secure long-term, sustainable and clean electricity for the Congolese people and for the development of Ivanhoe’s major, new copper mine at Kamoa, he says.

“Mining and the supply of reliable energy are inseparable and we are committed to implementing energy-efficiency measures and supporting cost-effective ways of generating clean energy, Friedland adds.

Hydropower, with the virtues of being clean and renewable, is among the best energy solutions for the industry living with the realities of climate change.

Upgrading of the other two existing hydroelectric power plants, Koni and Nzilo 1, is expected to begin once upgrading work at Mwadingusha is completed.

Meanwhile, construction and commissioning of a 120-kV power line to connect Kamoa to the national grid now completed.

Construction of a 20-km-long, 120-kV transmission line to supply construction power to the Kamoa site from the Kolwezi-Kisenge line, where it crosses the northern boundary of the Kamoa mining licence, was completed in late August. In addition, a local company is constructing 8 km of 11-kV overhead power lines, cabling reticulation and five mini-substations for distributing 11-kV of electricity to the Kamoa mine development declines at Kansoko Sud, camps, offices and de-watering boreholes.

Power from the national grid is expected to be available to the Kamoa site in October 2016 after the final testing and commissioning of the 120-kV and 11-kV overhead powerlines and electrical substations at Kamoa.