Studies to date have suggested that Banro should build a dedicated hydro plant costing almost US$55M, excluding access roads and ancillary buildings.

Banro said that the hydro plant option had higher capital costs than the alternative choice of diesel power, but added that operating costs would be significantly lower. The project budget, however, would allow for back-up diesel for essential mine processing plant.

Consultant Knight Piesold has been undertaking a more detailed hydrological study of the region to identify potential sites for the hydro plant.

The gold mining company also said that the hydro project should have the possibility of obtaining carbon credits, which it viewed as having the potential to reduce net costs of the hydro option.

A separate tailings dam costing just over US$5M has also been budgeted in the latest studies.

Banro is planning four gold mine projects along the Twangiza-Namoya region of the South Kivu and Maniema provinces of DRC. The company aims to complete a formal pre-feasibility study on the projects by the end of this year, and a full feasibility study is planned to be finalised in late 2008.