Ivanhoe Mines’ Executive Chairman, Robert Friedland, and the company’s CEO, Lars-Eric Johansson, have announced that ongoing upgrading work financed by the company at the Mwadingusha hydropower plant has begun supplying an initial 11 MW of power to the national grid in the DRC. Ivanhoe is developing the Kamoa copper project near Kolwezi which will ultimately be a significant user of electricity.
The upgrading – 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).
Reconditioned crane and new alternator at Mwadingusha (photo: Ivanhoe).
At Mwadingusha, electricity is now 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.
The Mwadingusha plant was originally commissioned in 1930. Completion of the full upgrading and modernisation of Mwadingusha’s five other generating units that now is underway is expected to restore Mwadingusha to its installed output capacity of approximately 71 MW of power for the national grid. The upgrading work is being undertaken by a partnership between SNEL and Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC, a subsidiary of Kamoa Holding Limited.
A ceremony recently 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.
Friedland said a dependable power supply was essential to planned production at the Kamoa copper project. “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 our major, new copper mine at Kamoa.”
Upgrading of the other two existing hydroelectric power plants – Koni and Nzilo 1 – is expected to begin once upgrading work at Mwadingusha 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 north-east of Kamoa. The Nzilo 1 plant, commissioned in 1952, is on the Lualaba River, downstream of Nzilo Lake and north of the city of Kolwezi, approximately 40 km from the Kamoa mine development site.
The three plants, once fully reconditioned, could produce a combined 200 MW of long-term electricity for the grid, which is expected to be more than sufficient to launch copper production at Kamoa.