The Government of the DRC and BHP Billiton signed an agreement today (Mon 22 Oct) to jointly investigate the development of a world-class aluminium smelter in the Bas Congo region of the DRC. The smelter would use electricity from the proposed Inga 3 hydropower station at Inga on the Congo River.
BHP Billiton is the world’s largest diversified mining and resources company. In addition to investigating aluminium smelting opportunities, BHP Billiton is involved in minerals exploration in the DRC and opened an office in Kinshasa during 2006.
The aluminium smelter, projected to cost US$3 billion, would produce about 800,000 tonnes/annum in its first phase and use up to 2,000MW of electricity. Initial concept studies have been completed for both the hydropower station and the aluminium smelter. Work will now start on feasibility studies for both projects. BHP Billiton has agreed to fund the costs of Inga 3’s feasibility study.
The agreement was signed in Kinshasa today by DRC Minister of Energy His Excellency Salomon Banamuhere, BHP Billiton Aluminium Southern Africa President Xolani Mkhwanazi and the Chairman of BHP Billiton in Southern Africa, Vincent Maphai. "Of course, the development of the Inga 3 hydropower project and the aluminium smelter project will be demanding. However we are fully prepared to work with the DRC Government to ensure the success of these projects," said Dr Maphai.
As has been demonstrated with other similar developments, such as BHP Billiton’s Mozal aluminium smelter in Mozambique, the smelter development in the DRC would bring enormous benefits to the local economy. BHP Billiton is committed to its core value of Zero Harm and to sustainable development, demonstrated in Mozambique and the other countries in which it operates.
"We want to build the world’s most modern aluminium smelter in the DRC and operate it according to international best practice. We commit to being good corporate citizens of your country, and to work with all of you to grow the DRC and benefit her people. We aim to be a business that creates a positive legacy for your country. We are proud to be part of the DRC’s future," concluded Dr Maphai.