To support the continued successful performance of the Kamoa mining complex, Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC, a sister company of Kamoa Copper, has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding to establish a public-private partnership (PPP) with the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC’s) State-owned power company La Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNEL) to deliver reliable, clean and renewable hydropower to the Kamoa mine.
Ivanhoe Mines co-chairpersons Robert Friedland and Yufeng Miles Sun explain that Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC's PPP with SNEL is aimed at working together to strengthen the grid’s capacity with renewable energy through the upgrade of a turbine at the existing Inga II hydropower plant, in the southwest of the DRC, on the Congo river – the deepest river in the world and the second-longest in Africa after the Nile river.
Kamoa Copper is jointly owned by Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the government of the DRC (20%).
The Inga II hydropower plant has been running for about 40 years, with four of the eight turbines having been refurbished. Turbine 5 is one of the remaining four that is awaiting an upgrade and is estimated to produce 162 MW of renewable hydropower, providing the Kamoa Copper mining complex and associated planned smelter with sustainable electricity for future expansions.
German engineering group Voith Hydro of Heidenheim has been appointed as the lead contractor for this upcoming project.
DRC President Félix Tshisekedi has expressed his support for the PPP to upgrade Turbine 5 at the Inga II power plant.
“The DRC is blessed with extraordinary hydroelectric potential. It is imperative to develop this potential because hydropower is clean, reliable and renewable. It is undoubtedly the most suitable type of electricity to support our country’s long-term development priorities.”
“Partnerships such as the one between Ivanhoe Mines and SNEL will allow us to inject additional capacity into our electrical grid and improve the living conditions of Congolese citizens by increasing their access to electricity.
"At the same time, the additional power that will be generated will allow Kamoa Copper to beneficiate its mining products in the DRC. This will create additional revenue for the country and as a shareholder of Kamoa Copper, the DRC sees this local value creation as a strategic imperative,” he says.
Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC and SNEL had previously entered into a PPP to upgrade the Mwadingusha hydropower plant.
"The Mwadingusha power station is almost completely refurbished with state-of-the-art controls and instrumentation. So far, Kamoa Copper has funded the development of 70 km of road access, a water treatment plant, a medical care facility and all the required equipment and infrastructures to make Mwadingusha viable and sustainable.
"Once fully completed, the Mwadingusha plant will provide 78 MW of hydro-generated electricity," Ivanhoe Mines notes.
Kamoa Copper chairperson Ben Bunanga adds that the PPPs between Ivanhoe Mines and SNEL will provide Kamoa Copper with priority access to a combined 240 MW of clean, renewable electricity from the upgraded turbines at the Mwadingusha and Inga II hydropower plants.