South Africa utility nears major contracts for 1,332-MW Ingula

South African utility Eskom Holdings Ltd. says it is finalizing major construction and equipment contracts for the 1,332-MW Ingula pumped-storage project in South Africa.

Eskom is developing Ingula, formerly called Braamhoek, in the Little Drakensberg Mountains near Ladysmith, on the border between Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. (HNN 7/20/07) Completion is scheduled for mid-2013.

The project is to feature two dams, one atop the Drakensberg escarpment and the other at the bottom, with water tunnels, an underground powerhouse complex with four turbine-generators, access tunnels, and access roads.

Eskom said February 8 it is in the process of finalizing contracts for upper and lower dam construction, main underground works, and the hydro-mechanical plant.

Contracts already awarded include: access roads, Grinaker/LTA; main access tunnel, CMC Mavundla; infrastructure, Afriscan; aggregate quarry, B&E Quanza Group; supervision, BCJV, and design monitoring, BCJV.

Excavation on a 6-by-6-meter construction access tunnel has advanced to 1.3 kilometers, the utility said. A 9-by-9-meter main access tunnel also has been started. Access roads to the site offices and upper dam are close to completion.

Eskom said a team of horticulturalists from the Bloemfontein Botanical Gardens has been working on the upper dam site, removing plants prior to dam wall construction. The team is assessing all species in the area and removing a number of plants for replanting at gardens in Bloemfontein.

Eskom said it is important to ensure that no plants are lost due to construction of the dam. The utility keeps detailed records of all plants that have been removed and is to continue the program until construction starts. It said the work helps reduce effects of dam building and with long-term rehabilitation.

Last year, Murray &Roberts, a South Africa construction and engineering group, completed construction a 1,050-meter exploration tunnel. The tunnel will carry all high-tension cables from the powerhouse complex and is fitted with instrumentation to verify geotechnical information.

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