This week's highlight projects
Zimbabwe: Chartered flight brings Chinese workers back to Hwange power plant
A plane full of Chinese workers landed in Zimbabwe to resume work at key China-supported projects, including the Hwange power plant. The flight was chartered by Power China and carried more than 200 workers from multiple Power China subsidiaries. Zimbabwe sealed off its borders in the face of Covid-19 in April 2020, causing severe disruption to the rotation of staff members at key China-backed projects. Most of the workers had been stuck in China since the 2020 Chinese New Year in January.
Hwange is Zimbabwe’s largest coal-fired power plant, with an existing 920MW capacity that will be expanded by another 660MW by Sinohydro (a Power China subsidiary). After completion, it is expected to meet 60% of the country’s power demand. A Xinhua report at the end of 2019 stated that progress of building the new Unit 7&8 stood at 25%, with Unit 7 expected to start power generation by Apr 2021. The global pandemic hit at a crucial time in the project’s construction, another example of how Covid-19 is affecting the unfolding of BRI.
Guinea: SPIC nears mining the first batch of bauxite
SPIC Aluminum and Power Investment, a subsidiary of State Power Investment Corporation (SPIC), has started the production trial of bauxite mining machineries (outsourced to a Power China-owned company) at its block 17 mining site in Guinea. 110,000 cubic meters of mountaintop surface have been cleared to make way for mining. The site is located near the border of Boke and Boffa regions, two traditional mining areas of the West African country.
In recent years, Guinea has rapidly emerged as the world’s largest supplier of bauxite, the raw material for aluminum smelting, after major suppliers such as Malaysia and Indonesia banned bauxite export for environmental concerns. In 2015, the Winning Group consortium, made up by private Singaporean and Chinese companies, led the way in connecting Guinea’s massive bauxite deposit to the Chinese market. Bauxite export from Guinea to China rose rapidly from 1 million tons in 2015 to over 30 million tons in 2017. Afterwards, state-owned enterprises such as Chinalco and SPIC followed suit in accelerating developments in Guinea, both eyeing the Boffa region as a key production base for their presence in the country.