Australia's Fortescue in Talks for World's Biggest Hydropower Project in Congo

By Reuters Staff

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Fortescue Metals Group adorns their headquarters in Perth, Australia, November 11, 2015. REUTERS/David Gray

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia’s Fortescue Metals Group said on Tuesday it was in talks with the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to develop a hydroelectric power project in the country that would become the largest in the world.

Discussions were centered around exclusive rights for Fortescue’s green energy unit to develop the Grand Inga Hydroelectric projects, but no formal binding agreement has been concluded, Fortescue said in a filing to the Australian Securities Exchange.

The proposed expansion project to two dams at Inga Falls, among the world’s largest waterfalls, which are 225 kilometres (140 miles) southwest of Kinshasa, would be able to supply 42,000 megawatts of power to sub-Saharan Africa. That is roughly double the size of China’s Three Gorges dam, currently the world’s largest, and development costs have been estimated at $80 billion.

The World Bank suspended a $73.1 million grant to the Congo project in 2016 because of a strategic development decision that had not been among the terms initially agreed, it said at the time.

“The DRC Government has invited interested corporations and governments to contact Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) if they have investment or service interest in the Inga Projects on the condition that personnel will be trained and sourced from the DRC as Fortescue has done in Australia,” it said.

Fortescue has said it plans to fund the majority of its green energy projects off its balance sheet, investing about $1 billion a year of its own money.

The statement was made in response to an article in the Australian Financial Review.

Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Kenneth Maxwell

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