Ivanhoe signs agreement to boost hydropower at Kamoa-Kakula
Ivanhoe Mines has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in a public-private partnership with the DRC’s state-owned power company La Société Nationale d'Electricité (SNEL) to upgrade a major turbine (#5) at the existing Inga II hydropower facility on the Congo River.
La Société Nationale d'Electricité
Félix Tshisekedi, President of the DRC, commented on the significance of the deal to produce clean, renewable electricity to support Kamoa-Kakula’s expansion plans and provide reliable electricity to local communities: “The Democratic Republic of the Congo is blessed with extraordinary hydroelectric potential. It is imperative to develop this potential because hydropower is clean, reliable and renewable. It is undoubtedly the most suitable type of electricity to support our country’s long-term development priorities.”
“Partnerships such as the one between SNEL and Ivanhoe allow us to inject additional capacity into our electrical grid and improve the living conditions of Congolese citizens by increasing their access to electricity. At the same time, the additional power that will be generated will allow Kamoa-Kakula to beneficiate its mining products in the DRC. This will create additional revenue for the country, as well as employment opportunities for our people. As the host country and as a shareholder of Kamoa Copper, the DRC sees this local value creation as a strategic imperative," President Tshisekedi added.
Ben Munanga, Chairman of Kamoa Copper, remarked: “The bilateral cooperation between Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC and SNEL to secure reliable power for Kamoa-Kakula is a win-win partnership and underscores the importance that the DRC government places on the development of large-scale mining projects in the country.”
“This new power-supply agreement is an important step forward on our sustainability journey as it will provide Kamoa-Kakula with priority access to a combined 240 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity from the upgraded turbines at Mwadingusha and Inga II hydropower plants,” Mr. Munanga added.
SNEL and Ivanhoe Mines Energy DRC plan to appoint Voith Hydro of Heidenheim, Germany, a leading engineering group, as the contractor to lead the consortium of equipment manufacturers for the turbine upgrade. For more than 80 years, Voith has successfully constructed and modernized hydropower plants on the African continent, and approximately 25% of currently installed turbine capacity in Africa has been supplied by Voith. Voith also has successfully rehabilitated two turbine generators at the adjoining Inga I hydropower plant, a project that was financed by the World Bank.
Ivanhoe's Chairman Robert Friedland said a long-term, sustainable supply of electricity is essential to Ivanhoe’s vision to develop Kamoa-Kakula into one of the world’s largest copper projects and doing it in an environmentally, ethically and socially responsible manner. As a sustainable source of energy, hydropower can make a significant contribution to a country’s economic and social development.
“Until now, a key limiting factor in expanding Kamoa-Kakula to its full potential has been the availability of sufficient power. Given the project’s massive Indicated Resources of approximately 1.4 billion tonnes grading 2.7% copper, at a 1% cut-off, and the outstanding potential to find more high-grade copper, the new partnership with SNEL on Inga II gives us a clear line of sight to realising our vision of building Kamoa-Kakula into the world’s largest, high-grade, green copper mine,” said Friedland.
“Our first public-private partnership with SNEL – the upgrading of the Mwadingusha hydropower plant – has gone very well and we are pleased that facility will provide clean hydro-generated electricity to local communities as well as to Kamoa-Kakula for Phase 1 and Phase 2 production. The supply of reliable hydropower is critical to Kamoa-Kakula achieving its goal of becoming the world's “greenest” copper mine and be among the world's lowest greenhouse gas emitters per unit of copper produced."
BHP deliberates ditching fossil fuels for greener mining
The world’s biggest miner, Australian-based BHP, is supposedly considering withdrawing from a multi-billion dollar contract, which would see the company generate more than US$2bn due to mounting pressure over aligning its business with ongoing climate concerns and ESG-compliance measures.
Exiting the agreement would mean BHP escalate its distancing from oil and gas and subsequently cut down on the amount of fossil fuels used by the company when mining.
It’s estimated that the petroleum business being debated upon could actually be worth around US$15bn but is still under talks to be put up for sale.
Global Mining Giant Considers Greener Future
BHP has made itself clear that it wants to avoid becoming unable to sell its assets. As competition within the market increases following higher numbers of oil giants wrestling with investors to deal with climate pressure, so too are the number of mining rivals looking to make environmental changes for the future.
However, BHP currently has the upper hand as a stalwart mining company that established itself back in the 1960s, allowing it the time to grow and dominate over other fast-appearing mining competition.
Mike Henry, BHP Chief Executive, has an optimistic outlook for the future of oil and gas despite worries over rising demand to align his business with the Paris Climate Agreement. Henry argues that prices remain promising due to a lack of industry-wide investment.
BHP’s petroleum business won’t be easy to say goodbye to. Forecasted to generate around 6% of profits during the ongoing financial year (US$2bn), and around US$1.6bn revenue produced by BHP petroleum in the six months leading to December 2020, BHP is due to take a hit no matter what agreement they choose.
On the other hand, distancing itself from thermal coal and petroleum would arguably aid the company’s case to possible - and valuable - investors who may be required to fund BHP’s increased output to places such as Australia and Mexico in the near future.
BHP considers cutting billion-dollar contract to aid climate
An exit away from petroleum has the potential to be “a powerful corporate catalyst,” says Dominic Kane, Analyst at JP Morgan.
“We believe an exit would likely ring-fence BHP’s exceptional cash flows for non-fossil fuel organic growth, mergers and acquisitions and generous shareholder distributions since BHP could avoid a major new capital investment phase this decade in petroleum.”
BHP is also set to sanction a giant US$5.7bn Canadian potash mine in August of this year, already seeing potash as a long-term substitute for gas and oil going into the future. The company has also previously announced plans to abandon its 80% share in its joint endeavour with Mitsui, owner of two lower-quality mines in Queensland, Australia.
BHP is scheduled to report its annual results on August 17, after which it may become clearer on whether the company will choose to focus its shift to a low-carbon economy or whether it will stay with its current contract into the coming year.