Gecamines Seeks Power Plant by ’17 for Copper Output Gain

Gecamines, the Democratic Republic of Congo’s state-owned mining company, plans to build a 500-megawatt coal-fired power plant by 2017 as the nation pursues higher copper production.

The company has commissioned a feasibility study that will be completed by September, allowing building to begin late this year or early 2015, Chief Executive Officer Ahmed Kalej Nkand said in an interview at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town today. Construction will take two years, he said.

“It would be the first continuous electricity to function all the time without limitations,” Kalej said. “It will also be a source of funding for us, because we’re only going to be using part of this electricity and can sell back the rest.”

Gecamines produces barely an eighth of the copper it mined in 1986, reflecting decades of mismanagement at the company and conflict in the central African country. The Lubumbashi-based company needs to raise about $2.8 billion to fund the power plant, three processing units and social spending, it said today in a presentation.

“We are talking to many partners, banks, financial institutions and even private companies from Congo and elsewhere,” Kalej said of the effort to arrange funding.

While Gecamines was once one of the world’s biggest copper miners, producing 476,000 metric tons in 1986, output almost stopped in the early 2000s. Constrained by a lack of power supply, it produced 60,000 tons of copper in 2013 and aims to increase this to 100,000 tons this year, Kalej said.

The company said in October it may consider an initial public offering within two-years time, after it certifies a sufficient amount of copper reserves.

Gecamines favors developing the reserves independently, he said. “Right now, we want to exploit the stocks alone,” he said. “We’re not completely closed from partnerships, but if we will do partnerships it will be on new terms and not how it used to be.”

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