Zambia to develop hydro despite downturn in mines’ demand

Despite lower demand for electricity, the power supplier to Zambia’s mining industry said it will proceed with a feasibility study for the 34-MW Kabompo Gorge hydroelectric project on the Kabompo River in Zambia’s North-Western Province.

“In the long term, the company’s customer demand is expected to increase, leading to increased turnover,” Executive Chairman Hanson Sindowe of Copperbelt Energy Co. (CEC) said February 26.

CEC, Zambia’s sole power distributor to vast copper and cobalt mines, has experienced a 15 percent decline in demand as metals prices fall.

The Zambia government awarded a development concession for Kabompo Gorge in December to CEC and Tata Africa Holdings Ltd., a unit of India’s Tata Group. (HNN 5/14/08) Assuming the feasibility study results are positive, the companies would develop the US$80 million project on a build-own-operate basis.

The first phase of studies is to be completed in 12 months, including: analysis of hydrological and geological aspects of the project site; preliminary surveys of the overall project area; recommendation of the optimum transmission line; and preliminary engineering designs, project estimates, and financial analysis.

Kabompo Gorge is to include a dam and water tunnels, power station, 80-kilometer transmission line to the nearest grid substation, and employee housing and other facilities. Implementation is to require 70 months, with commissioning expected in 2014.

Companies to proceed with bid for 750-MW Kafue Gorge Lower

Sindowe said CEC and Swiss-based Glencore International AG also would proceed with a previously announced joint bid to develop the 750-MW Kafue Gorge Lower hydroelectric project on Zambia’s Kafue River. (HNN 8/22/08)

Three miles downstream from the tailrace of the 900-MW Kafue Gorge project, Kafue Gorge Lower is expected to cost US$1.5 billion and would help power the copper industry. A unit of the World Bank said in December that the project would be delayed several months due to the global financial crisis and technical difficulties with the initial project site. (HNN 12/3/08)

Tata Africa Holdings already is participating in development of the 120-MW Itezhi-Tezhi hydroelectric project on the Kafue River in a joint venture with Zambia Electricity Supply Corp. The joint venture, Itezhi Tezhi Power Corp., currently is taking bids for construction of the project on an engineering-procurement-construction basis. (HNN 1/16/09)

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