September 24, 2017

Low electricity supply a major hindrance to DRC mining

There is a huge possibility that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) might not meet the level of growth the BMI Research has forecast, due to a shortfall in electricity supply.

Growth of DRC’s mining sector will average 9% between 2017 and 2021, according to macroeconomic, industry and financial market analysis firm, BMI Research in its DRC Mining Report.

As mining is very energy-intensive, there is a possibility that the expectations might not be realised.  Only around 16% of the DRC’s population are connected to the electrical grid.

“The lack of reliable generating capacity creates a serious roadblock when it comes to economic development and the ability of the DRC’s mining sector to realise anticipated growth rates,” says Victor Mallet, Africa-based sales director for APR Energy.

The cross-border power deal between South Africa and the DRC reached in April this year might not make much of a difference.

Under the deal,  Eskom will provide Congolese state-owned power company, SNEL, with an additional 200MW from Eskom, and is expected to support a 20% increase copper production by the end of 2017.

However, even supply from Eskom, a shortfall of approximately 950MW remains, according to the DRC’s Chamber of Mines.

“That’s not likely to improve without the installation of new generating capacity or improvements to the power grid,” Mallet says.

“At the moment, the DRC can only receive 200MW from Eskom because of grid constraints in the transmission network between the two countries.”

A number of transmission and generation projects are underway in the DRC to increase capacity as well as distribution capabilities. Most recently, the DRC awarded a $30 million contract to upgrade transmission lines from the Inga hydropower station to the mining district of Katanga in the southeast of the country.

A 4,800MW Inga 3 hydropower project also is planned, but recent reports say it won’t produce power until 2024 or 2025, rather than 2020 or 2021 as originally planned.”


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