BHP would have been a major backer for the hydropower project, as a major proportion of its output was planned to power the new smelter. Energy Minister Gilbert Tshiongo told Reuters that while the withdrawal could create problems for Inga 3, the government was confident of finding new consumers, noting that BHP would not be the only customer for the project.

Inga 3 is one of the largest proposed power plants in Africa, with an output estimated at between 3500-7000MW. It is expected to come online in 2018 to meet power demands in the country.

BHP reportedly pulled plans for the smelter following a review of project costs.