Executive Chairman Robert Friedland and Chief Executive Officer Lars-Eric Johansson have announced that ongoing upgrading work at the Mwadingusha hydropower plant in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has almost tripled the plant’s interim power output from 11 to 32 megawatts (MW).

According to the executives, this represents 45% of the plant’s designed capacity.

“Three of Mwadingusha’s six generators now have been modernised; the remaining three generators are due to be upgraded and fully operational by the end of 2019 – restoring the plant to its installed output capacity of approximately 71 MW of power,” said Ivanhoe Mines in a published statement.

The work at Mwadingusha, part of a program to eventually overhaul and boost output from three hydropower plants, is being conducted by engineering firm Stucky, of Lausanne, Switzerland, under the direction of Ivanhoe Mines and its joint-venture partner, Zijin Mining Group, in conjunction with the DRC’s state-owned power company, La Société Nationale d’Electricité (SNEL).

Once fully reconditioned, the three plants will have installed capacity of approximately 200 MW of electricity for the national grid, which is expected to be more than sufficient for the Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project.

Friedland said a long-term, sustainable supply of electricity is essential to Ivanhoe’s vision to develop Kamoa-Kakula in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.

“The upgrading program underway at Mwadingusha is a significant private-public partnership venture between SNEL, Ivanhoe and Zijin, which is vital to secure sustainable, clean electricity for the Congolese people and for the development of a Tier One copper mine at Kamoa-Kakula,” said Friedland.

“Hydropower, with its virtues of being clean and renewable, is the best energy solution to support our development priorities as we continue to look for ways to reduce our impact on the environment and produce the copper the world requires,” he added.