AVZ Power signs MOU to refurbish Mpiana-Mwanga hydroelectric power station in DRC

AVZ Minerals Limited announces its 100%-owned subsidiary AVZ Power SAU has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ministry of Hydraulic Resources and Energy to investigate refurbishment of the Mpiana-Mwanga hydroelectric power station and associated power grids in the Manono Territory.

The Mpiana-Mwanga station is located on the Luvua River about 85 km east-south-east of the proposed Manono mine site. The station was originally built in 1933 to service the historic tin mine but closed in 1982 when operations ceased.

At present, power is generated at the Manono town site using diesel generators and a recently commissioned 1.5-MW solar system, while at AVZ’s camp it is powered by a 20-Kva solar system with a diesel-powered back-up generator.

AVZ Powers’ intends to acquire from the DRC government a long-term, 100% exclusive lease to rehabilitate the Mpiana-Mwanga station. It is estimated up to about 54 MW of capacity would be available from the rehabilitated power station — sufficient to power the Manono town site and AVZ’s nearby mining camp and associated infrastructure and any future expansion of the mine site, including a 25-Ktpa hydroxide plant.

“We have been working towards securing this opportunity for several months now as we consider the rehabilitation of the Mpiana-Mwanga power station is a major step forward for the company,” said AVZ Minerals Managing Director Nigel Ferguson. “Controlling the refurbishment of the hydro power plant allows the company to develop the hydro plant in phases that align with AVZ’s mine expansion program, with the first phase delivering approximately 18 MW of electricity from two turbines.

“We can then expand the existing power station, which has capacity for six turbines, to deliver additional electricity for our expanded DMS plus flotation operation and finally, our third expansion phase — establishing a hydroxide plant — with a combined requirement of approximately 54 MW of electricity.”

AVZ says it is likely to generate significant longer-term savings from generating its own electricity at an estimated 3 to 4 cents per kWh, as opposed to using diesel powered generators at an estimated 42 cents per kWh.

“Ultimately, the electricity generated from the power station could be used for operating all of our mining equipment, making the Manono Lithium and Tin Project a 100% ‘green’ mine, as well as providing sufficient electricity to power the entire Manono town site and rehabilitate the associated power grids in the Manono Territory,” Ferguson said.

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