Ongoing upgrading work at the Mwadingusha hydropower plant in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has almost tripled the plant’s interim power output from 11 to 32 MW.This represents 45% of the DRC-based plant’s designed capacity.
Three of Mwadingusha’s six generators now have been modernised, while the remaining three generators are due to be upgraded and fully operational by the end of 2019 – restoring the plant to its installed output capacity of approximately 71 MW of power.
The work at Mwadingusha, part of a programme to eventually overhaul and boost output from three hydropower plants, is being conducted by engineering firm Stucky, of Lausanne, Switzerland, under the direction of 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).
Once fully reconditioned, the three plants will have installed capacity of approximately 200 MW of electricity for the national grid, which is expected to be more than sufficient for the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project.
Ivanhoe Mines executive chairman Robert Friedland says a long-term, sustainable supply of electricity is essential to Ivanhoe’s vision to develop Kamoa-Kakula in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.
“The upgrading programme is vital to secure sustainable, clean electricity for the Congolese people and for the development of a Tier One copper mine at Kamoa-Kakula,” Friedland adds.
“Hydropower, with its virtues of being clean and renewable, is the best energy solution to support our development priorities as we continue to look for ways to reduce our impact on the environment and produce the copper the world requires.”
Upgrading the other two hydroelectric plants
Mwadingusha is the first of three hydropower plants that Ivanhoe and Zijin plan to upgrade.
Upgrading of the other two existing hydroelectric power plants – Koni and Nzilo 1 – is expected to begin once Mwadingusha’s upgrading is completed.
The Mwadingusha and Koni plants are in cascade, with Koni directly downstream from Mwadingusha on the Lufira River at the mouth of Lake Tshangalele, north of Likasi and approximately 250 km northeast of the Kamoa mine development site.
The Nzilo 1 plant is on the Lualaba River, downstream of Nzilo Lake and north of the city of Kolwezi, approximately 40 km from Kamoa.
Feature image credit: Ivanhoe Mines
Mwadingusha dam, upstream from power plant.