The Volta River

carThis Report Was Written By. Prof. W.A. Lewis - September 1958

Cross-section Of the Bauxite Mining Site - Red Indicates Bauxite Deposits

There Are Three Good Reasons for the Volta River Project. One is that the Gold Coast has huge deposits of bauxite, the ore from which aluminum is extracted. Another is that the flow of the Volta River offers a very large potential supply of cheap hydro-electric power. These particular resources are not unique. Both cheap power and bauxite exist elsewhere in the world. But the Gold Coast has them close together - and that is the third good reason for the Volta River Project. Bauxite is red earth. It does not change or deteriorate if left in the ground. But there it is of no use whatsoever to the Gold Coast. It could be of some slight use if mined and exported, giving returns in the form of employment and export duty. But by far the greatest benefit for the people of this country could be obtained by processing the bauxite into aluminum here in the Gold Coast Not only would one of the most valuable natural resources of the country be utilized, but the coming of a great industry would bring a new life and a new outlook to thousands of people in the Gold Coast. It would also enable the potential power of the Volta River to be utilized, because the smelting of aluminum requires enormous amounts of electricity. The flow of the Volta, if dammed and used to turn turbines in a power station, would generate an immense amount of electricity -about one hundred times as much as the Electricity Department now produces for the whole of the country. But although all that power is there waiting to be used, the Gold Coast has a problem in finding a way to develop it cheaply. To build a dam and power station would cost some £60 million. This would have to be paid for by the sale of the power produced. The more power that can be produced and sold, the cheaper the power will become. All the towns in the Gold Coast now supplied by the Government, however, could consume only one-hundredth part of the power available at Ajena. If the country wished to develop its power regardless of expense, these consumers would have to bear the cost of all the rest of the power, whether used or not. This would make the power not cheap, but very expensive.

 

The Dam at Ajena Could Store Water for Hydro-Electric Power

The Dam at Ajena Could Store Water for Hydro-Electric Power Consequently, unless the Gold Coast finds a new and very large consumer of electricity, the potential power of the Volta cannot be developed for the benefit of the country, because the cost can never be recovered from existing consumers. There is, fortunately, a new and large consumer in sight: the proposed aluminum smelter. An aluminum industry can consume all the power the Volta can produce. It is the Only industry in the world, in fact, which can make the Volta power project an economic possibility. Another vital economic factor is the cost of bringing the bauxite and power together. True, the bauxite, which lies in the hills between Aya and Yenahin, is only about 200 miles from the place on the Volta which the power will be produced. Elsewhere in the world the bauxite and power are thousands of miles apart This gives the Gold Coast an advantage, provided that the cost of railway freight over the shorter distance can compare favorably with the cost of the much longer journey by sea. It can now clearly be seen that the economic production of aluminum is the heart of the Volta River Project. That the bauxite and the power of the Volta can only be utilized together, and not independently of each other. That although other vast works are involved, and thousands of people will be affected who will have no direct connection with the industry, the entire scheme stand: or falls by whether aluminum made in the Gold Coast can be sold competitively on the markets of the world.

 

The Smelter Could Get Hydro-Electric Power from Volta Power Station

This question of cost and price dominates every aspect of the project, and will continue to do so throughout the life of the scheme. The Gold Coast's advantages of nature depend absolutely upon holding the price of power and transport to the very minimum. It cannot be repeated too often that the Volta River Project will work only if the combined cost of the rail transport for bauxite and the Volta hydro-electric power is no higher than it is ill other countries.

 

 

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