Energy, infrastructure and mines in Nicaragua
Nicaragua’s energy, infrastructure and mines sector has become a priority through the years, receiving large volumes of investment mainly for the development of renewable energy projects and mining projects. Also, the country has managed to attract worldwide recognized companies due to the successful execution of these types of projects as well as for their technical and economic capacities.
1. Investment Opportunities in the Energy Sector
Nicaragua offers a wide range of investment opportunities in the energy sector. Due to its richness in natural resources, the country has a potential of approximately 4,500 MW for energy generation from renewable sources distributed by geothermal, hydroelectric, wind, solar and biomass.
- Geothermal Potential: The geothermal potential in Nicaragua, the largest in Central America, is linked to the regional geological context related to the Cocos and Caribbean tectonic plates. This has given rise to the volcanic mountain range “Los Maribios”, which run parallel to the Pacific Coast and is composed of volcanoes, crater-lakes and volcanic craters, composed of extensive areas of hydrothermal activity that indicate a strong presence of magma.
- Hydroelectric Potential: Nicaragua has abundant large rivers in the central and the Caribbean region, which have not been used for power generation. Given the abundance of rivers, studies show a potential for hydroelectric power generation of 2,000 MW.
- Biomass Potential: Nicaragua is characterized of having rich and diverse sources of biomass with high energy potential. Waste and byproducts of agricultural and forestry production are major sources of potential fuels. At this moment, such wastes are being used for this purpose by two sugar mills in Nicaragua. The Monterrosa and San Antonio sugar mills supply to the National Grid an approximate of 30MW each, using as fuel bagasse (a byproduct of sugar production), and eucalyptus harvested specifically for the production of steam and energy generation.
2. Investment Opportunities in Infrastructure
One of the main opportunities regarding infrastructure is the project of the "Touristic Port of San Juan del Sur". San Juan del Sur’s Port is a bay located on the south Pacific coast of Nicaragua, 140 kilometers from the capital city of Managua and 29 kilometers from the city of Rivas. Since January of 2000, the National Port Authority (EPN) has been servicing cruise ships that have increasingly been arriving to the port. Up to April 2009, more than 270 cruise ships and nearly 160,000 tourists had visited San Juan del Sur’s port. Currently, cruises must anchor 600 meters away from the shore of San Juan del Sur’s Port and tourists are transported on tenders to the dock. The objective of building a tourist port is to have world-class facilities to properly service cruises ships and yachts, as well as to promote professional and sport fishing, thus transforming San Juan del Sur into the country’s main tourism destination. The estimated cost of the project is US$40 million.
Another important opportunity relates to the renewal of Nicaragua's most important airport. The International Airport Administration Company has plans to improve the facilities of Managua’s International Airport. The improvements are focused on transforming the airfield to a category 4E and repairing and extending the existing runway up to 3.300 meters long. Additionally, the project includes the extension of the parallel taxiway, the construction of a street for quick exit for runway 09 and the complete replacement of the existing lighting and visual aids. It is expected that the project will attract the operation of new companies and encourage the implementation of new air routes. This would increase the country’s connectivity with the rest of the world, while increasing its competitiveness in the region. The project has an estimated cost of US$45.2 million.
3. Mining Opportunities in Nicaragua
In order to develop the country’s mining sector, the Government of Nicaragua, through the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) facilitates investment attraction in the energy and mining sector through the implementation of laws and regulations that establish the legal basis for foreign investment, providing investors with the needed legal security as well as very attractive incentives for the development of mining projects. Exploration in the national territory reaches more than a third part of the country and the potential of metallic minerals that are economically exploitable are concentrated in the Central Province (Volcanic Province), Northern Province (Metamorphic Complex) and the northern plains of the Atlantic Coast. All the mining exploitation are taking place in those provinces.