Refurbishment begins at DRC’s giant Inga project

Work began April 27 to refurbish the 1,774-MW Inga hydroelectric complex at a site in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where the Congo River drops 100 meters, giving it the potential to produce at least 50,000 MW.

Currently, the 350-MW Inga 1 and 1,424-MW Inga 2 plants produce a total of only 500 MW due to lack of maintenance. MagEnergy Inc., a unit of Canadian magnesium producer MagIndustries Corp., and 15 percent partner Industrial Development Corp. of South Africa, plan to restore a significant portion of the lost generation.

MagEnergy is providing US$12 million for Phase 1 of Inga refurbishment, the rehabilitation of one 178-MW turbine-generator, Unit G23, at Inga 2. That unit, in turn, is to provide reliable energy during Phase 2 of the program, rehabilitation of four more units.

The lead contractor for Phase 1 is Franco Tossi of Italy, which also participated in the original development of Inga 30 years ago, MagEnergy said.

Tendering seen for additional units of Inga 2

In Phase 2, MagEnergy is to finance rehabilitation of the next four units over four years at an estimated cost of US$110 million. MagEnergy said tendering and project finance of Phase 2 are to be finalized by the fourth quarter of 2006. That on-site work is to begin in January 2007.

An April 27 opening ceremony was attended by officials of utility Societe Nationale d’Electricite (SNEL), senior management of MagEnergy and MagIndustries, DRC government officials, and the minister of mines from neighboring Congo Republic, where MagIndustries is building a magnesium plant that will use some of Inga’s power.

The next stage of development, an Inga 3 of up to 3,500 MW, is being discussed by a joint venture involving the governments of DRC, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. The five-nation Western Corridor Power Project (Westcor) joint venture is expected to begin pre-feasibility studies in May of Inga 3, which is envisioned to be a run-of-river project.

For information, contact MagIndustries Corp., President William Burton, 372 Bay St., Suite 801, Toronto, Ontario M5H 2W9 Canada; (1) 416-3687911; E-mail: wburton@magindustries.com; or Georges Kyriakos, Vice President Development, MagEnergy Inc., Johannesburg, South Africa; (27) 11-2637704; E-mail: gkyriakos@magindustries.com; Internet: www.magindustries.com.

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