Aluminium companies want cheap Papuan power

Alcoa, Rio Tinto show interest: US aluminium giant Alcoa and Anglo-Australian miner Rio Tinto are also believed to have shown interest in the project.

Project would triple PNG capacity: The project would have the capacity to produce 1800 megawatts of electricity in a country with a current installed capacity of just 55OMW.

30-year old plan: Plans for damming the Purari have been on the shelf for more than 30 years, but local company PNG Sustainable Energy has dusted off a 1974 feasibility study and expects to complete an initial proposal for the project by the end of the second quarter.

Rusal smelters: Rusal, which is considering PNG as a site for a new aluminium smelter and whose Russian smelters are powered by hydro plants, met PNGSEL last week to discuss the project. The Russian smelter would account for the bulk of Purari’s generation, taking about 12,000-13,00OMW.

Who is behind PNGSEL: PNGSEL is a joint venture between Australian engineering consultants Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation and the PNG Sustainable Development Program, a development trust that owns 52 per cent of PNG Ok Tedi copper and gold mine. Chaired by Australian academic Ross Garnaut, the trust was created by BHP in 2002 to own and manage its stake in Ok Tedi after it severed ties with the mine to absolve itself of river pollution.

PNGSEL seeks partners before Govt application: Subject to feasibility, PNGSEL is now looking for joint-venture partners ahead of making any development application to the PNG Government.

Dam ready by 2012: The dam would take about four years to build and, allowing for approvals and finance raising, could be in operation by mid-2012.

The Australian, 23/1/2007, p.22

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