Miner studies 30-MW hydro project at DR Congo gold site

Canadian gold miner Banro Corp. has completed a pre-feasibility study of its Twangiza Gold Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), finding a hydro project of up to 30 MW to be feasible to power the proposed mine.

Banro said July 6 that project economics for a 30-MW Ulindi 2 hydropower project, on the Ulindi River in eastern DRC’s South Kivu Province, are better than a diesel-powered alternative.

Knight Piesold Ltd. of Canada performed studies of two preferred sites, Ulindi 1 and Ulindi 2, with installed capacity in the range of 26.5 MW to 30 MW.

“Knight Piesold Ltd. has indicated that the development of a hydroelectric power facility to supply the project is both feasible and viable,” Banro said. “Studies to date envisage the development of a stand-alone, run-of-river hydroelectric scheme on the Ulindi River (Ulindi 2) utilizing a 600-meter natural drop in the river over a distance of some 18 kilometers.”

Banro said studies indicated Ulindi 2 could accommodate a significantly larger project if required. The 30-MW plant itself is a substantial increase over the 18-MW plant proposed in an earlier scoping study, Banro said. (HNN 7/31/07)

“In addition, the hydro offers a clean energy solution that will attract both environmental and revenue benefits, the latter resulting from carbon credits that are now available in the market,” the company said. “This also improves the logistics of the operation through not having to convey diesel to site, which would otherwise create congestion along N2 highway.”

Banro said the larger hydro project was expected to cost about US$40 million more than the original cost estimate of $54.8 million.

The company said hydropower builders and operators have been approached to perform on-site visits in the near future in order to submit a price for a bankable feasibility study. Banro said it would seek third-party funding of the hydro plant, adding discussions are under way with a number of outside parties.

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