Ivanhoe Supplying Hydropower to DRC Grid

Workers install electrical transmission lines as part of Ivanhoe Mines’
program to connect its Kamoa copper project to the DRC’s national power
grid. (Photo: Ivanhoe Mines)
An Ivanhoe Mines project to upgrade power supply to the national grid in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) began supplying an initial 11 MW from the Mwadingusha hydropower plant in mid-September. Work at Mwadingusha is part of a program planned to eventually overhaul and boost output from three hydropower plants— Koni and Nzilo 1 in addition to Mwadingusha.

The program 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). Upgrading of the Koni and Nzilo 1 plants is scheduled to begin once upgrading work at Mwadingusha is completed. 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 Ivanhoe’s Kamoa copper project in the southern DRC.

The first phase of Kamoa project development is targeting construction and operation of a 3-million-mt/y underground mine, concentrator, and associated infrastructure to produce about 100,000 mt/y of copper in concentrate. A planned second phase would entail a major expansion of the mine and mill and construction of a smelter to produce blister copper.

Power from the national grid was expected to be available to the Kamoa site in October, after final testing and commissioning of the 120-kV and 11-kV overhead powerlines and electrical substations at the project. A local company is constructing the 8 km of 11-kV overhead power lines, cabling reticulation, and five mini-substations that will distribute electricity to the Kamoa mine development declines, camps, offices, and de-watering boreholes.

“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,” Ivanhoe Mines Executive Chairman Robert Friedland stated.

As featured in Womp 2016 Vol 10 - www.womp-int.com