Congo Says Talks With BHP Billiton on Inga 3 Power Plant Are Very
By Michael J. Kavanagh and Jesse Riseborough - Oct 27, 2010 4:43 AM PT
Wed Oct 27 11:43:50 GMT 2010
The Democratic Republic of Congoï¿½s government is in ï¿½very advancedï¿½
talks with BHP Billiton Ltd. on the Inga 3 hydropower project, as the
worldï¿½s biggest mining company seeks electricity for a possible
Congo formally invited offers to build the project on the Congo River
yesterday, Energy Minister Gilbert Tshiongo Tshibinkubula wa Tumba
said today in Kinshasa, the capital. BHP, studying development of a
smelter in the country, is continuing talks with the government on
both ventures, which are at an ï¿½early conceptual phase,ï¿½ Rosheeka
Amarasekara, a London-based spokeswoman for the company, said by
Inga 3 is part of the planned $22 billion Inga power complex,
estimated to generate about 40,000 megawatts, almost twice the
capacity of Chinaï¿½s Three Gorges dam. A previous proposal for the
5,000-megawatt Inga 3, estimated to cost $5.2 billion, was shelved
when Western Power Corridor, a venture between five African countries,
ï¿½BHP could potentially support the development of Inga 3 by
constructing an aluminum smelter in the Bas Congo province which could
source power from the Inga 3 hydropower scheme,ï¿½ Amarasekara said. The
company canï¿½t provide estimates on output or costs, she said.
BHP said in 2007 its plant could use about 2,000 megawatts of power
from the proposed Inga 3 project and produce 800,000 metric tons of
the metal a year.
ï¿½While waiting for the construction of Inga 3, Congo will face a
deficit in 2015 in the order of 858 megawatts as demand rises, notably
the demand of miners,ï¿½ the energy minister said today. The country
wants Inga 3 to be operational by 2020, he said, adding that 3,500
megawatts to 4,200 megawatts will be ï¿½prioritizedï¿½ for BHPï¿½s smelter.
The nation needs $6.4 billion over the next five years to rehabilitate
and build its electricity network. Congo is seeking $22 billion
between 2015 and 2025 for Inga 3 and the Grand Inga dam, which would
harness the power of the Congo River, the second-biggest by volume
after the Amazon.
Congoï¿½s rivers could produce more than 100,000 megawatts at 341
different sites, the minister said. Only 2.5 percent of their energy
potential is currently being exploited. Congo has 2.463 megawatts of
hydropower installed and 1.382 is being used, he said.
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