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Ivanhoe signs MoU to upgrade Inga turbine in the DRC.

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The Congo River is the deepest river in the world and the second longest after the Nile. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

April 26, 2021– Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in a public-private partnership (PPP) with the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) state-owned power company La Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNEL) to upgrade turbine number five, one of the primary turbines in the existing Inga II hydropower facility on the Congo River.

Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC is a sister company of Kamoa Copper SA tasked with delivering reliable, clean and renewable hydropower to TSX listed Ivanhoe Mines’ Kamoa-Kakula copper mine in the DRC. The announcement was made jointly by Robert Friedland and Yufeng “Miles” Sun, co-chairs of Ivanhoe Mines.  Turbine five is one of eight turbines at the Inga II hydroelectric power station that is earmarked to support Kamoa-Kakula’s expansion plans and provide reliable electricity to local communities.

According to the President of the DRC, Félix Tshisekedi, 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 SNEL and Ivanhoe 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-Kakula to beneficiate its mining products in the DRC. This will create additional revenue for the country, as well as employment opportunities for our people. As the host country and as a shareholder of Kamoa Copper, the DRC sees this local value creation as a strategic imperative,” President Tshisekedi added.

Ben Munanga, Chairman of Kamoa Copper says that the bilateral cooperation between Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC and SNEL to secure reliable power for KamoaKakula is a win-win partnership and underscores the importance that the DRC government places on the development of large-scale mining projects in the country. “This new power-supply agreement is an important step forward on our sustainability journey as it will provide Kamoa-Kakula with priority access to a combined 240 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity from the upgraded turbines at Mwadingusha and Inga II hydropower plants,” says Munanga.

An estimated 162 megawatts of hydropower will be generated by upgrading Inga II’s turbine five. The Inga II hydropower plant is in the southwest of the DRC, on the Congo River. The Congo River is the deepest river in the world and the second longest after the Nile, with a flow rate second only to the Amazon’s. Measured along with the Lualaba, the main tributary, the Congo River has a total length of 4370 kilometres. It is the only major river to cross the equator twice.

The Congo River is unique in that it has large rapids and waterfalls very close to the mouth while most rivers have these features upstream. The rapids and waterfalls give the Congo River huge hydropower potential. The Congo Basin covers an estimated total area of 3.7 million square kilometres, approximately 13% of the entire African landmass. Originally equipped between 1977 and 1982, Inga II has been running for approximately 40 years. Four of the eight turbines at Inga II have been refurbished. Turbine five is one of the remaining four that are awaiting an upgrade. An estimated output of 162 megawatts (MW) is expected to be unlocked by upgrading Inga II’s turbine five, part of which will be used to meet future power requirements of the Kamoa-Kakula Mine.

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. SNEL and Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC plan to appoint Voith Hydro of Heidenheim, Germany, a leading engineering group, as the contractor to lead the consortium of three equipment manufacturers for the turbine upgrade.

According to Friedland a key limiting factor in expanding Kamoa-Kakula to its full potential has been the availability of sufficient power. “Given the project’s massive Indicated Resources of approximately 1.4 billion tonnes grading 2.7% copper, at a 1% cut-off, and the outstanding potential to find more high-grade copper, the new partnership with SNEL on Inga II gives us a clear line of sight to realising our vision of building Kamoa-Kakula into the world’s largest, high-grade, green copper mine,” says Friedland.

The above information was sourced from Ivanhoe Mines.

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