8 June 2012 – Zambian independent power transmission group, Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) continues to evolve as an independent power producer with progress reported by the company on its efforts to develop the 40 MW Kabompo Gorge hydroelectric project.

The project is situated in the Mwinilunga district of north-western Zambia, and is in close proximity to the emerging copper mining industry of the country’s North-Western province. CEC placed an international tender to identify interested and qualified contractors to undertake the project through an expression of interest, following which a short list of five contractors was selected to submit a full bid.

The final bid responses were to be received by March 2012, and a preferred contractor identified by June 2012. Standard Bank was appointed as debt advisor and arranger for the project. The debt financing process, which commenced during the first quarter of 2012, involved presenting a fully structured project to a range of international financial institutions from commercial banks to development finance institutions and export credit agencies, with a view to obtaining the most appropriate and cost effective debt terms. A capital intensive project of this nature will require debt tenors of up to fifteen years.

The project will cost an estimated US$140 million and the design specifies a roller compacted concrete dam that is 47.5 metres high and 123 metres long, a reservoir with an area of 3,485 hectares, an underground chamber for the power house, and four kilometres of tunnelling. A transmission line would be constructed to connect to the national grid at Lumwana.
 
The project is scheduled to reach financial close during the latter half of 2012, with construction commencing during 2013 and project commissioning during the latter half of 2015.

In addition, CEC has commenced feasibility studies for different hydro schemes along the Luapula River which, based on pre-feasibility studies already completed, are capable of accommodating at least five different hydro schemes with an estimated generation capacity of about 800 MW. It is expected that rights to the power will be shared between Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as the river lies along an international border.

CEC already has 80 MW of embedded thermal generation capacity in its network that supplies a number of large mining operations on Zambia’s copperbelt.