Australia’s Intra Energy Corporation (IEC) has announced that it plans to invest $236m in Tanzania’s first privately funded coal mine and a coal fired power plant to reduce the nation’s reliance on hydropower.

IEC executive chairman Graeme Robertson said that mining was expected to begin within a week, with the first consignment of coal from the Mbalawala mine expected in September.

He said that IEC would invest $120m in a 120 MW coal fired power plant near the mine, and that IEC was also considering construction of a 400 MW power plant in the southern Tanzanian town of Mbeya and another 400 MW power plant in Dar es Salaam, between 2013 and 2018.

Tanzania plans to spend $742m by 2012 for emergency power projects aimed at ending energy shortages, and intends to diversify power production away from hydropower, which currently accounts for 55 per cent of its electricity generation.

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