Solar power for Essakane gold mine in Burkina Faso

A power purchase agreement has been signed among IAMGOLD Essakane, EREN Renewable Energy, AREN ENERGY and Essakane Solar to begin the development of a 15 MWp solar power plant for IAMGOLD’s Essakane mine in Burkina Faso. The agreement is for an initial period of up to 15 years. The mine is located about 330 km northeast of the Burkinabe capital city, Ouagadougou. Jointly owned by IAMGOLD (90%) and the Government of Burkina Faso (10%), IAMGOLD Essakane, which owns and operates the mine, produces over 400,000 oz/y of gold. Essakane Solar, a local entity created by the project developers, will operate the solar power plant that sells the energy to the Essakane mine.

“Hybrid power systems enable energy intensive industries, such as mines, to reduce fuel consumption, decrease energy costs, protect against fuel price volatility, as well as improve their social and environmental footprint by cutting greenhouse gas emissions and boosting local employment,” commented President and CEO of IAMGOLD Steve Letwin. “This 15 MWp solar project may only be the beginning for our Essakane mine, but IAMGOLD is already well on its way to increase the proportion of renewables to 15% of its total energy needs within three to five years. Switching power generation to renewables has been on IAMGOLD’s agenda for several years as evidenced by the 5 MW solar power plant that was installed in 2014 at the company’s Rosebel gold mine in Suriname.”

With the transition to processing harder ore, energy consumption at the Essakane mine has increased from about 14 GWh/month in 2013 to 26 GWh/month in 2015. In light of this, IAMGOLD Essakane decided to partner with African Energy Management Platform (AEMP) and global renewable energy independent power producer EREN Renewable Energy SA, to construct solar capacity to complement the existing 57 MW heavy fuel oil (HFO) power plant. In the project’s first phase, 15 MWp of solar capacity would be built and the hybridization of IAMGOLD Essakane’s HFO power plant will allow savings of approximately 6 million litres of fuel and a reduction of 18,500 t/y of CO2.