Tackling chronic power outages in Zambia Jul 2012
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
- The contract for construction of the $US140 million Kabompo Gorge hydro project in Zambia, Africa, which includes 4km of tunnelling, is to be awarded next month (August, 2012).
Location of Kabompo Gorge
- Vincent Nyirenda, Project Manager for the owner, Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC), told TunnelTalk that debt arranging is currently in progress. Five international prequalified companies and consortia (from a total of 17 who expressed interest) have put forward full bids, he confirmed.
- "We are finalizing the adjudication of the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) tender, and the successful bidder will be announced at the start of next month (August 2012)," he said.
- The project involves construction of a 40MW capacity power station with an annual output of 166GWh of energy. Scope includes construction of a roller compacted concrete dam 47.5m high and 123m long, a reservoir, an underground chamber for the power house, and 4km of tunnelling. A transmission line will be constructed to connect to the national grid at Lumwana.
Challenging geography and climate
- The five prequalifiers are:
• Motor Engil/ Malawi MSF JV
• Patel Engineering
• CMC di Ravenna
• HCC Kabompo JV
- Key risks associated with the project, which is located in the Mwinlungu district of northwest Zambia in close proximity to the emerging copper mining industry, are mainly geological. A feasibility study carried out in 2010 identified adverse ground conditions as a major factor affecting construction of the dam foundations and the tunnel. It also predicted that heavy rainfall will be a factor in construction.
- The population of Zambia currently suffers chronic power outages, largely as a result of the demands of the energy-hungry copper mining industry. In addition to the Kabompo project, CEC is also investigating financing options for the US$1 billion development of five more hydro projects in nearby Luapula Province.
- In March it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Africa Finance Corporation to develop, invest in and operate power assets throughout Africa, and formed a partnership in relation to the Kabompo and the Luapula projects.
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