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

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

Challenging geography and climate

The five prequalifiers are:
• Motor Engil/ Malawi MSF JV
• Patel Engineering
• Sinohydro
• 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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