ERLAU TPC winning 10m tonnes of cement for Ethiopia’s Millenium Dam.

Half a century ago, as a young surveyor visiting Ethiopia, Salini Costruttori’s 77 year-old lead engineer, Angelo Pitra, identified the site as an area with potential for hydropower development.

Now, as announced April 2 2011, construction of what will be Africa’s largest (and the world’s 10th largest) hydro-electric dam is officially underway.

Located, 900km north-west of Addis Ababa, on the lower basin of the Blue Nile (locally known as the Abbai River), when completed in 2017 and fully equipped with 15 Francis turbines, the €3.3bn, Millennium Hydroelectric Power Project will have a generating capacity of 5,250mW.

Having started work on the Dam some months before the official announcement, Salini has already constructed an air strip for light aircraft and is currently building personnel and site service camps.

Key machinery being brought to site by Salini are crushing and batching plants and several items of heavy mobile earthmoving equipment including two 9 cu.m., CAT 990 and seven, 7.5 cu. m., CAT 988 loaders.

It is understood that the 10,000,000 tonnes of cement for the project will be manufactured from locally-sourced basalt – a harsh material which is known for its unforgiving attrition of earthmover tyres.

In order to prevent equipment downtime due to tyre failure, increase loader productivity and, thereby, reduce operating costs, Salini is extending the life of the 988’s 35/65/33 tyres and the 990’s 45/65/39 tyres by fitting six sets of RUD-ERLAU tyre protection chains (TPC).

Chosen for their excellent wear-resistance, the FELS GIGANT PLUS X19 TPCs are the product of close on 70 years of TPC experience. Created from advanced metallurgy, state-of-the-art welding and hardening technology. RUD-ERLAU’s world-leading TPC’s are known to, at least, double and, sometimes, triple tyre life.

With the TPCs shipped at the end of August, experienced Erlau engineers will be on-site in October to ensure the TPCs are correctly fitted, following which, as part of ERLAU’s comprehensive after sales service, Salini’s workshop and service staff will receive training in the few maintenance and care procedures needed to maximise chain life.

Filling the 145 meters tall, 1780 meters wide RCC (Roller Compacted Concrete) dam and the supporting 40m high x 5km saddle dam will take three to five years and will create a 40km lake containing some 62 bn. cu. m. of water.

According to some sources, it is believed that, as well as tripling Ethiopia’s energy output, the Millenium Dam will benefit several related riparian countries. Stored in narrow gorges, it is expected that less water will be lost through evaporation and, downstream, there will be reduced risk of flooding and siltation.

Once again, ERLAU TPCs have been chosen to play a part in a world-class project that will benefit millions of people in the region.