Barrick’s Kibali Gold Mine has invested US $207m in a 42 Megawatt Hydroelectric Power plant. Andy Sambwe, electrical engineer at Kibali, brought this to media attention. He revealed this at the mining operators during the second panel of DRC Mining Week, in Lubumbashi.
The move, according to media reports, stems from the observation that mining companies have a very large and growing demand for energy while SNEL, a state-owned company, is not able to fill it. As such, there is need for intermediate solutions that offers benefits to the mining industry.
Andy Sambwe also explained that underground mines require a constant availability of electrical energy. Kibali thus got the idea to use hydroelectric plants in addition to thermal power plants to meet its energy needs, which were evaluated at 42 megawatts. Moreover, thermal power was proving to be quite the expensive venture because of the purchase of diesel.
To achieve this, Kibali Gold Mine has built three hydroelectric plants: The NZORO 2 plant (2012) with a capacity of 22 megawatts on a US $100m investment; the Ambarau plant commissioned (2017) with a power output of 10.7 MW and an investment of US $57m and the Azambi plant commissioned in 2018, capacity of 10.3 MW with an investment of US $50m. Added to this is the NZORO 1 power plant that Kibali found on site. Mr. Sambwe also revealed that two other plants are under construction. This, he explained, is because the more the underground mines expect, the more energy needs increase. This model hailed by some should be duplicated by other mining operators pending the materialization of the Inga 3 project