8 October 2002 – Australian private engineering company Snowy Mountain’s Engineering Corporation has signed an agreement to negotiate the sale of electricity to India generated by a proposed new hydro electricity plant to be built in Nepal.

SMEC West Seti Hydro-electric Corporation Ltd, a unit of SMEC Group, said on Tuesday it has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Power Trading Corporation of India Ltd. which could lead to the construction of the 750 MW West Seti hydro electricity plant at an estimated cost of A$860m ($471m).

SMEC are reported to have been working on the project since 1996 and hope to begin construction in March 2004.

SMEC General Manager Project Finance Sam Lackey told the Reuters news agency, “A lot of people are watching how this project develops to see if large projects can be developed efficiently and effectively in Nepal, which has huge hydro-electric development potential.”

He said SMEC has signed a project agreement with the Nepal government, which last week approved the environmental impact assessment report for the hydro-electricity plant.

Lackey said the company will now begin raising finance for the project and will be making presentations to equity investors in Asia and Europe during the next few months.

Australian Trade Minister Mark Vaile said in a statement on Tuesday that construction of the hydro-electricity plant would make the SMEC Group the largest single foreign investor in Nepal.