Following the South African government’s landmark decision in late-2021 to increase the licensing threshold for embedded generation projects from 1 MW to 100 MW, mining companies in South Africa are expected to spend as much as $3.8 billion on renewable energy projects in the near-term.
The industry plans to introduce up to 3,900 MW of solar, wind, and battery energy projects, with several mining companies operating in the southern African country having already implemented plans to develop solar photovoltaic (PV) plants, with a combined capacity of 585 MW.
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Sibanye-Stillwater – 175 MW
Precious metals mining company Sibanye-Stillwater has proposed a three-project plan to introduce 175 MW of renewable energy across its platinum group metal (PGM) mining operations in South Africa, which will consist of an 80 MW solar PV project at its Rustenburg Platinum Mines Complex, a 65 MW solar PV project at its Karee Complex and a 30 MW solar PV project at its Bushveld Complex. Accounting for approximately 39% of the group’s energy demand, Sibanye-Stillwater’s South African PGM operations are equivalent to approximately 310 MW. At an estimated cost of between $164.5 million and $184 million Sibanye-Stillwater has indicated that the solar projects will be funded through third-party power purchase agreements.
Anglo American Platinum – 100 MW
With construction scheduled to commence by the end of 2022, Anglo American Platinum, one of the world’s largest producers of platinum, has selected South African independent power producer Pele Green Energy–EDF Renewables South Africa consortium to build a 100 MW solar PV plant at its Mogalakwena mine in the southern African country’s Limpopo province. The solar PV plant is expected to become operational by the end of 2023 and will coincide with Anglo American’s target of achieving carbon neutrality across all its operations by 2040.
Gold Fields – 40 MW
Having received a license in February 2021 from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to generate its own electricity, Gold Fields, one of the world’s largest gold mining firms, has begun finalizing plans to construct a 40 MW solar PV plant at its South Deep gold mine near Westonaria, 50km south-west of Johannesburg. At a cost of R660 million and comprising 116,000 solar panels, the solar plant will supply the mine with a fifth of its power needs. According to Gold Fields, the project’s construction phase will lead to the creation of approximately 240 temporary jobs and 12 high-paying permanent jobs once the plant becomes operational.
Harmony Gold – 30 MW
As part of the first phase of a rollout plan that is expected to see gold mining company Harmony Gold implement 167 MW of solar energy by 2025, the gold producer will develop three 10 MW solar energy plants for its operations in the southern African country’s Free State province. Scheduled for completion by 2024, construction of three 10 MW solar PV plants began in June 2022 and will generate 75 GWh of clean energy per year. As part of an aggressive decarbonization plan by the mining company, Harmony Gold’s renewable energy rollout plan will significantly contribute towards its target of net zero emissions by 2045.
Impala Platinum – 10 MW
Joining the growing list of mining companies seeking alternative power supplies, platinum mining company Impala Platinum has launched a tender for the commissioning of a 10 MW solar PV project at its Marula Platinum mine in the Limpopo province of South Africa. With construction expected to commence this year, and with commercial operation scheduled for 2024, the winning bidder will design, finance and construct the solar project. The Marula Platinum Mine Solar PV Park will cost an estimated $11.95 million.