Angola, Alcoa to study smelter powered by new hydro

CAPE TOWN, South Africa 11/1/11 (PennWell) -- U.S. aluminum maker Alcoa has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Angola to explore development of an aluminum smelter in Angola that would be powered by hydroelectric projects being considered by the government.

The agreement was signed October 26 in the Angolan Consulate at Cape Town by officials of Alcoa and the ministers of Energy and Water, and Geology and Mining Industry.

The pact provides that both sides will begin feasibility studies to determine the viability of a smelter that would produce 750,000 metric tons per year beginning in 2020. The MOU provides for a 12-month exclusivity period to negotiate a power contract and cooperation agreement.

"Alcoa is interested in pursuing projects that lower our cost position," President Ken Wisnoski of Alcoa's Growth group said. "We believe the Angola government's proposal to provide hydroelectric power offers a great potential and we are pleased to have the opportunity to work together on feasibility studies."

Although no hydropower projects were specified, Alcoa said Angola has committed to allocate 1,300 MW of firm capacity for the aluminum industry. It said Angola has significant capacity for developing hydroelectric facilities and intends to use that capacity to attract energy intensive industries to the country.

In 2009, Angola Energy Minister Emanuela Vieira Lopes signed an agreement with Norway aluminum producer Norsk Hydro to study developing 750 to 1,000 MW of hydropower integrated with aluminum production facilities. At that time, the state-run Angola Press said the energy minister emphasized that hydro project was to have as its basis the development of the Keve River, a basin with considerable hydropower potential that, so far, has been undeveloped.

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