Work on Baleh dam to start next October

Mega undertaking: An artist impression of Baleh dam in Sarawak.

KUCHING: Construction of the 1,285mW Baleh hydroelectric project (HEP) is expected to start in October next year.

When completed, Baleh dam will be the fourth hydropower plant in the state after Batang Ai, Murum and Bakun.

The design of the dam is being finalised.

In March, state-owned power provider Sarawak Energy Bhd awarded the main civil works contract to a joint venture between China Gezhouba Group Company Ltd and local firm Untang Jaya Sdn Bhd.

The contract includes designing and construction of the main dam, intake structures, spillway and penstocks.

The project marked an important milestone as “one of Sarawak’s largest infrastructure projects”.

The plant would generate an additional 1,285MW of renewable energy to the grid when fully commissioned in 2025 and would help to meet Sarawak’s vision for sustainable growth, Sarawak Energy Group chief executive officer Sharbini Suhaili said.

Sharbini said the 188m-high concrete-face rockfill dam would be located on the Baleh river, about 95km upstream from its confluence with the Rajang river in the Kapit division.

“The project will not involve any community resettlement although some farmland is affected.

“As a member of the International Hydropower Association, Sarawak Energy is committed to undertaking the project in accordance with the guidelines set out by the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol,” he said in a statement.

China Gezhouba Group and Untang Jaya have indicated that they are looking at procuring locally sourced content of up to 45% of the contract value. This includes local communities, bumiputra companies, and Sarawak- and Malaysia- registered companies.

The project will mark China Gezhouba Group’s first foray into construction in Malaysia.

The company is an established hydropower specialist with over 40 years of experience, including the construction of at least eight rock-fill dams and another 18 concrete-face rockfill dams.

Its main designer Yellow River Engineering Consulting Ltd is an established design consultant with a portfolio of more than 10 concrete- face rockfill dams worldwide.

Untang Jaya, which comprises 30% of the joint venture, is a Sarawak-registered Class A contractor from the Baleh/Kapit area with extensive background in construction.

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