Mining giant BHP Billiton said it plans to build a 2,500MW hydro power plant worth $3.5bn in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to support a new aluminium smelter.

BHP said it plans to build a power plant on the Congo River to supply a $5bn aluminium smelter that will process 2 million tons of Guinean alumina per year into 800,000t of finished aluminium, reports Reuters.

The Inga X project will replace a rejected 5,000MW project at the same location put forward by Westcor, a joint venture between five southern African Governments and utilities.

BHP said it intends to carry out the project in partnership with the DRC through a public-private partnership.

The firm plans to conduct a two-year feasibility study between 2011 and 2013 to complete the plant by 2018, at the same time as the smelter.