Ivanhoe Mines Co-Chairs Robert Friedland and Yufeng “Miles” Sun announced that Kamoa Copper SA sister company Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC has extended its existing financing agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s La Société Nationale d’ Électricité (SNEL) to upgrade turbine 5 in the 1,424-MW Inga II hydropower facility on the Congo River.
Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC is tasked with delivering reliable, clean, renewable hydropower to the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Mine. The Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project, which began producing copper in May 2021, is a joint venture between Ivanhoe Mines (39.6%), Zijin Mining Group (39.6%), Crystal River Global Limited (0.8%) and the Government of the DRC (20%). The extension of this financing agreement builds on the framework agreed in a memorandum of understanding signed with SNEL in April 2021.
An estimated 162 MW of hydropower is expected to be generated by upgrading Inga II’s turbine 5, which when combined with the 78 MW of hydropower from the Mwadingusha facility, will give Kamoa-Kakula priority access to a combined 240 MW of clean, renewable electricity.
The financing agreement was entered into in connection with the joint rehabilitation of the Mwadingusha hydropower plant under the first public-private partnership with SNEL, where five of six turbines have been completed. Under this arrangement, rehabilitation and upgrade activities are financed by Kamoa Copper’s holding company, Kamoa Holding, by way of a loan to SNEL, which will be repaid through a deduction to monthly power bills incurred over the life of the loan.
Kamoa Copper and SNEL, together with the expertise of Stucky SA of Switzerland and Voith Hydro of Germany, respectively the EPCM and the contractor, have commenced a technical assessment to define the scope of work and associated costs estimate. The work also will include upgrading the terminal equipment on the Inga-Kolwezi transmission line to increase its transfer capacity by a minimum of 200 MW.
“The Kamoa Copper management team continues to execute on our strategic plan to systematically expand Kamoa-Kakula into one of the world’s largest and greenest copper producers,” said Friedland. “The timely refurbishment of turbine 5 at the Inga II hydropower complex is instrumental in ensuring we meet the aggressive expansion goals we’ve set out to accomplish in the next few years.”
SNEL Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bosco Kayombo Kayan added: “SNEL and Ivanhoe Mines Energy are confident that the Inga II project will enjoy the same success as our joint rehabilitation of the Mwadingusha hydroelectric power station. We all are keen on fast-tracking the return to service of unit 5 at Inga II to provide access to electricity to more people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and to meet the power demands of the world-scale Kamoa-Kakula Copper Mine.”
The Inga II hydropower plant is located in the southwest of the DRC. Equipped between 1977 and 1982, Inga II has been running for about 40 years. Four of the eight turbines have been refurbished. Turbine 5 is one of the remaining four turbines awaiting an upgrade. The surplus power produced from the upgraded turbine will be distributed on the national power grid to increase access to electricity for the citizens of the DRC.