UPDATE 1-Chinese consortium sole bidder for Bosnia's 450 MW coal-fired unit
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SARAJEVO, April 22 (Reuters) - A Chinese consortium is the only bidder for a $1.16 billion project to build a 450 megawatt coal-fired power generation unit in Bosnia after Hitachi pulled out of the race, Bosnia's top power utility EPBiH said on Tuesday.
The consortium, which includes China Gezhouba Group and Guandong Electric Power Design, placed the only valid bid that will be evaluated by EPBiH's management, supervisory board and shareholders' assembly, EPBiH said.
The utility said in a statement Hitachi had sent a notification which said: "Due to the political situation in Bosnia it is not in a position to join the project and place its final offer."
In February, Bosnia was rocked by protests over unemployment, corruption and political inertia, during which several regional governments were brought down.
At the same time, talks with the European Union on a constitutional reform that would remove discrimination against minorities and allow Bosnia apply for the membership of the bloc, collapsed amid political wrangling.
The cost of the new unit at the Tuzla power plant is estimated at 1.65 billion Bosnian marka ($1.16 billion). The plant in northern Bosnia currently has six units and produces around 3,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity a year.
The project is seen as one of the largest investments into the Balkan country's energy infrastructure, which needs upgrading as many of its coal-fired plants are way past their prime. ($1= 1.415 Bosnian marka) (Reporting by Maja Zuvela,; Editing by Michael Kahn and Jane Merriman)