Tag Archives: Mali

Suntrace, BayWa re, B2Gold commission ‘world’s largest’ off-grid solar-battery system

Suntrace GmbH and BayWa re, together with B2Gold, have completed commissioning of what they say is the world’s largest off-grid solar-battery hybrid system for the mining industry at the Fekola gold mine in Mali.

The solar-battery hybrid plant was integrated and commissioned successfully with the existing power plant operation, with the solar plant on course to be 100% complete by the end of June.

Hybrid projects such as this, which combine solar energy with conventional energy generation and battery storage, are an effective way to provide reliable power supply day and night in off-grid areas, Suntrace says. “Ideally suited to their needs, B2Gold approved the hybrid project for implementation in July 2019, following completion of preliminary studies by Suntrace and BayWa re.”

The Fekola gold mine operates 24-hours a day. During the daytime, the new 30 MW solar plant allows three out of six heavy fuel oil generators to be shut down; the energy production of the residual three generators could also be significantly reduced. The 15.4 MWh battery storage compensates for energy generation fluctuations and assures a reliable operation, which allows up to 75% of the electricity demand of the gold mine to be covered by renewable energy during the daytime, Suntrace said.

Dennis Stansbury, Senior Vice President at B2Gold, said: “Suntrace and BayWa re have played a vital role in our work towards more sustainable production at Fekola. The implementation of a solar-battery hybrid system was an obvious choice to help achieve this, not only for its environmental credentials, but also its economic viability. This is a landmark project which we expect to pave the way for more sustainable power generation within the mining industry in West Africa.”

The integration of the solar power plant with the battery system will ensure safe and reliable power, saving 13.1 million litres of heavy fuel oil a year.

Martin Schlecht, COO of Suntrace, said: “We are very proud that B2Gold has entrusted Suntrace, together with BayWa re as engineering and procurement contractor, to support the development and implementation of this innovative project. Thanks to excellent team work with B2Gold and BayWa re, we were able to manage the completion despite the global challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic imposed on all of us. We are proud to jointly deliver a functioning project, well integrated with the mining operations, which reduces CO2 emissions from power generation for the Fekola mine by roughly 20%.”

The photovoltaic-battery system will help to reduce CO2 emissions by 39 000 t/y, according to the company.

Thorsten Althaus, Project Manager at BayWa re, added: “Integrating such a large amount of solar into a small, isolated grid safely and reliably has been a major technical challenge and required the use of battery storage as well as a tailor-made control system. This was conceptualised in the early stages of the project and we ensured that our vision was implemented accordingly by the suppliers. It is extremely rewarding to see how well this solution performs in reality and shows that the technology works and is just waiting to be applied on further projects.”

Optimising energy management at B2Gold’s Fekola mine

The delivery of a cutting-edge 17 MW/15 MWh energy storage platform and Wärtsilä’s advanced GEMS system is optimising energy management at B2Gold’s Fekola gold in Mali, Luke Witmer* writes.

Since B2Gold first acquired the Fekola gold mine, located in a remote corner of southwest Mali, exploration studies revealed the deposits to be almost double the initial estimates.

A recent site expansion has just been completed, and while the existing power units provide enough power to support the increase in production, the company sought to reduce its energy costs, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and increase power reliability.

The addition of a 35 MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) plant and 17 MW/15 MWh of energy storage to the existing 64 MW thermal engine plant was decided. This new energy mix is anticipated to save over 13 million litres of fuel, reduce carbon emissions by 39,000 t/y, and generate a payback in just over four years.

Such an elaborate hybrid configuration needs a powerful brain to deliver on all its potential: Wärtsilä’s GEMS, an advanced energy management system, has been set up to control the energy across the fleet of power sources, thermal, renewable, and battery storage. The integration, control, and optimisation capabilities provided by GEMS allow the thermal units to be run at the most efficient rate and enable the battery storage to handle the large load step changes and volatility of the solar PV generation assets.

Integrated hybrid energy solution

In the context of the Fekola mine, which is an off-grid electrical island, the battery is performing a lot of different services simultaneously, including frequency response, voltage support, shifting solar energy, and providing spinning reserves. The energy load is very flat, with a steady consumption rate around 40 MW as the mining equipment is operating consistently, 24/7. However, if an engine trips offline and fails, the battery serves as an emergency backstop. The controls reserve enough battery energy capacity to fill the power gap for the time it takes to get another engine started, and the software inside each inverter enables the battery to respond instantaneously to any frequency deviation.

The reciprocating engines operate most efficiently at 85-90% of their capacity: this is their ‘sweet spot’. But if there is a sudden spike in demand, if a little more power is needed, or if mining equipment is coming online, then another engine needs to be run to meet the extra load.

With the battery providing spinning reserves, the engines can be kept running at their sweet spot, reducing the overall cost per kilowatt hour. Moreover, with the solar plant providing power during the day, three to four engines can be shut down over this period, providing a quiet time to carry out preventive maintenance. This really helps the maintenance cycle, ensuring that the engines operate in a more efficient manner.

Solar PV volatility can be intense. On a bright day with puffy clouds passing by, a solar farm of this size can easily see ramps of 25 MW over a couple of minutes. This requires intelligent controls, dynamically checking the amount of solar that can be let into the grid without causing an issue for the engine loadings or without overloading the battery.

Conducting the orchestra

The GEMS intelligent software provides the optimisation layer that controls all the power sources to ensure that they work together in harmony. The user interface (UI) gives access to all the data and presents it in a user-friendly way. Accessible remotely, all operations are simulated on a digital twin in the cloud to verify the system controls and simulate the most efficient operating scenarios to lower the cost of energy.

This is an important software feature, both during and after commissioning as it allows operators to train on the platform ahead of time and familiarise themselves with the automated controls and dynamic curtailment of renewables. The UI provides the forecast for renewables and the battery charge status at any given moment, it can provide push email or phone notifications for alerts; telling operators when to turn off an engine and when to turn it back on.

The software is constantly analysing the data and running the math to solve the economic dispatch requirements and unit commitment constraints to ensure grid reliability and high engine efficiency. Load forecasting integrates the different trends and patterns that are detectable in historic data as well as satellite based solar forecasting to provide a holistic approach to dispatching power. The Fekola site has a sky imager, or cloud tracking camera with a fisheye lens, that provides solar forecasts for the next half hour in high temporal resolution.

To ensure that operators really understand the platform, and have visibility over the advanced controls, the UI provides probability distributions of the solar forecast. Tracking the forecast errors enables operators to see whether the solar is overproducing or underproducing what the forecast was expecting at the time and provides visibility to the operators on the key performance indicators. This feedback is an important part of the machine/human interface and provides operators with insight if an engine is required to be turned on at short notice.

Automated curtailment enables the optimisation of the system providing a reactivity that people cannot match. By continually monitoring the engine loadings and battery, the system is ready to clamp down on solar if it gets too volatile or exceeds some spinning reserve requirement. For example, if a large, unexpected cloud arrives, the battery is dispatched to fill the gap while the engines ramp up. Once the cloud disappears, however, the engines remain committed to operating for a few hours, and the solar power is transferred to recharge the battery.

Over time, as load patterns shift, the load forecasting algorithm will also be dynamically updating to match the changing realities of the load. As mining equipment hits layers of harder rock, increasing the power load, the system will adjust and dispatch the engines accordingly.

The new gold standard

The Fekola mine project incorporates the largest off-grid hybrid power solution in the world, demonstrating the growing case for clean energy and its sustainable and economic potential for mines in Africa and beyond.

As the cost of batteries and solar panels continues to become more competitive, hybrid solutions are proving to be a realistic and effective means for increasing energy reliability and lowering operating costs in any context, thus freeing up resources to improve the human condition; whether through cheaper materials and gainful employment, or by providing broader access to reliable electricity for healthcare, education, and improved quality of life.

*This piece was written by Luke Witmer, General Manager, Data Science, Wärtsilä Energy Storage and Optimization

B2Gold’s Fekola mine expansion starts up ahead of schedule

B2Gold Corp has successful commissioned the mill expansion at the Fekola mine, in Mali, to 7.5 Mt/y, around one month ahead of the scheduled completion date of September 30, 2020.

The company has completed all major construction activities associated with the Fekola mill expansion, as well as successful execution of a process performance test to compare with design expectations, it said.

Four days after start-up, a five-day mill performance test was conducted from August 26 to August 30, 2020. The results of the performance test exceeded design in throughput, gold recovery, grind and availability over the period. The minor, outstanding construction work is expected to be completed by mid-September 2020, it said.

The expansion has seen the company expand the mining fleet (adding excavators, trucks, and drill rigs); bolster the mill with cyclone clusters, leach and CIP tanks; and complete a double lift on the tailings storage facility.

This has already had an impact on the mine’s core metrics. In the first half of the year, Fekola produced 311,435 oz of gold, 7% above budget and 39% higher than the first half of 2019.

B2Gold acquired Fekola through a merger with Papillon Resources in October 2014, with the company completing construction of the Fekola mill and commencing ore processing more than three months ahead of the original construction schedule and on budget, in September 2017.

The first gold pour at Fekola took place on October 7, 2017. Within only 60 days from start-up, the mine achieved commercial production on November 30, 2017, one month ahead of the revised schedule and four months ahead of the original schedule.

Astec Industries looks to boost Africa and Middle East business with Aramine tie-up

Astec Industries, through its newly organised Africa and Middle East (AME) business unit, has announced a distribution partnership with France-based mining and underground solutions specialist Aramine.

This strategic alliance will enhance the supply, distribution and service of Astec mining, quarrying and materials handling equipment in numerous African countries, Astec said. This includes rock breaker systems, rock crushers, feeders, vibrating screens, conveyors, washing and classifying equipment for open-pit mines, alongside underground mining products and bulk material handling systems.

Aramine has been appointed as a dealer for Astec Material Solutions products in Mauritania, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, and Niger in West Africa, as well as in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco in the Maghreb region.

Vinesh Surajlall, Director – Material Solutions at Astec AME (pictured), said: “The expansion of the Astec portfolio that will be distributed by Aramine is an important evolution in our commercial relations, as we collaborate in very active and demanding markets in West Africa and the Maghreb.

“With this partnership, we are developing a new customer proximity offer, combining expertise, services and quality products.”

Jaime Martel, Key Regional and Product Manager and Head of Distribution Partnerships at Aramine, says the new venture represents Astec’s confidence in Aramine. The two organisations have enjoyed a longstanding distribution partnership which previously encompassed only the BTI range of rock breaker and boom systems.

“The extension of our alliance, to cover the material solutions offering, will equip us further in meeting the needs of our customers in the regions,” he noted.

In addition to its recognised expertise and technical service, Aramine will leverage its networks of subsidiaries and partners in the regions, Astec said.

The recent group restructuring and the establishment of Astec Industries AME will deliver further benefits for Astec customers in the region, the company says.

“The move forms part of Astec Industries’ international expansion strategy, with regional sales organisations established to improve customer interaction and support for the complete range of Astec products,” Astec said. “Astec Industries AME is one of these regional sales organisations and will be responsible for business relationships in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. The AME offices are based in Elandsfontein, Johannesburg, with regional sales managers positioned strategically within the region to support the business’s dealer network and customers.”

Surajlall concluded: “We look forward to contributing to the continued growth of our customers’ businesses through this enhanced structure, optimised product range and support structures throughout the Astec Industries organisations. This expanded partnership with Aramine represents an important opportunity to strengthen the presence of Astec Industries Inc in these significant territories.”

MacLean Engineering up to the Africa mining challenge

MacLean Engineering’s investment in Africa is paying off, with multiple production support vehicle sales recently secured on the back of an increased presence in South Africa.

Having last month bolstered its largest single fleet in Africa to 11 vehicles at the Kibali gold mine, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the company is now busy assembling equipment for delivery at an underground mine in Namibia, while making manufacturing and delivery plans for a successful tender for five units that will head to a underground gold mine in Mali.

John-Paul Theunissen, MacLean’s General Manager for Africa, says recent sales could be put down to the company boosting its manufacturing and service capacity on the continent close to two years ago.

“We are now manufacturing for Africa out of South Africa,” he told IM. “Towards the end of 2018/beginning of 2019, we commissioned another 900 sq.m of manufacturing space at our South Africa facility. This means we now have 1,000 sq.m of workshop and assembly space.”

The Free State facility, the first international branch MacLean set up back in the 1990s, also offers maintenance and service support.

These attributes, plus the ability to access MacLean engineers across the globe for equipment troubleshooting, have allowed Africa-based mining companies to get comfortable with the Canada-based brand, according to Theunissen.

“We have really started to build momentum in Africa, increasing the level of service and support closer to home,” he said.

“It is this local aspect that really sells fleets, as opposed to individual machines.”

MacLean now has 1,000 sq.m of workshop and assembly space, Theunissen says

This increased local offering has arrived at just the right time.

While the stricter lockdown measures in South Africa have been lifted – the country has moved from Level 5 to Level 3, allowing mines to return to full capacity (with COVID-safe procedures in place) – companies procuring equipment for Africa are conscious intercontinental deliveries could face upheaval again if a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19 hits.

Some mining companies influenced by recent lockdowns are also making longer-term pledges to adjust their supply chains to take advantage of local expertise, at the same time reducing potential risks that come with buying machines and solutions from overseas suppliers.

This recently enlarged presence in Africa could see MacLean benefit from such moves.

Recent orders

The latest orders Theunissen mentioned could reflect this reality.

In securing a contract to supply three MacLean 3-Series Cassette Trucks (CS3) and four cassettes to the Murray & Roberts Cementation and Lewcor Mining joint venture set to establish the underground stoping horizon at the Wolfshag zone at B2Gold’s Otjikoto mine, in Namibia, the company achieved several ‘firsts’, he said.

“It’s a new customer, Murray & Roberts; a new country, Namibia; and a new miner, B2Gold,” he said.

These units will be assembled in South Africa – another MacLean first – and are due to be delivered to the mine by the end of the last quarter of the year, according to Theunissen.

And, as mentioned before, the company recently bolstered the fleet at the Barrick Gold/AngloGold Ashanti majority owned Kibali gold mine in the DRC.

The latest piece of equipment for the mine – which arrived at the end of July – was one of the company’s personnel carriers.

This adds to the three EC3 Emulsion Chargers, a WS3 Water Sprayer, a FL3 Fuel Lube Truck, and a BT3 Boom Truck – all from MacLean’s trusted Mine-Mate™ Series – that Byrnecut, the original mining contractor at Kibali, brought in from 2013 onwards.

When the Kibali mining model changed to ‘owner-operator’ under the management of Randgold (now Barrick), the fleet got bigger, with the miner adding four new rigs: another EC3, another BT3, an SL3 Scissor Lift with pipe handler attachment, and a TM2 Mobile Concrete Mixer.

MacLean says its expanding presence at Kibali, from the development phase all the way back in 2013 up to achieving record production numbers in 2019 and 2020, illustrates the “MacLean Advantage in action”.

It explained: “MacLean’s dedicated team in South Africa has worked closely with mine management and operators to provide the training, maintenance and support needed to keep Kibali running smoothly. With operations forecast to continue at Kibali through 2036, MacLean looks forward to providing dependable support for years to come.”

Tech take-up

Mines like Kibali – one of the most technologically advanced in Africa – are gradually becoming more and more automated in an effort to increase productivity and safety.

Already one of the world’s most highly automated underground gold mines, Kibali’s backbone is Sandvik’s AutoMine Multi Fleet system, supervised on surface by a single operator. This system, in a world first, allows a fleet of up to five LHDs to be operated autonomously, 750 m below the surface, within the same 6 m x 6 m production drive while using designated passing bays to maintain traffic flow, Barrick says. A similar system is used in the production levels to feed the ore passes, according to the company.

While MacLean’s production support vehicles often interact with these autonomous loaders, for the time being they are still manned by operators.

This is set to change into the future, according to Theunissen.

“The Advanced Vehicle Technology Team (AVT) in Canada is moving into the automation space,” he said. “We’re looking to integrate our own digitalised systems into those of OEMs such as Sandvik and Epiroc to ensure fully interoperable autonomous operation.”

Within the AVT, the Advanced Vehicle Technology group embedded at the MacLean Research and Demonstration Facility, in Sudbury, Ontario (pictured below), has over 20 engineering staff working on remotely controlled to fully autonomous vehicle operation, using radar, LiDAR, and vehicle monitoring technology, according to MacLean.

This team has already come up with vehicle telemetry hardware and software, and virtual reality training tools. It is also transitioning to a cloud-based platform for documentation, parts ordering, and training content called Documoto.

The Advanced Vehicle Technology group is embedded at the MacLean Research and Demonstration Facility, in Sudbury, Ontario (photo: James Hodgins)

While these technology developments will, in the future, underwrite the company’s transition to offering machines capable of fully autonomous operation, MacLean is already at the front of the pack when it comes to facilitating the industry’s electrification movement.

In Canada, it has more than 30 battery electric mining vehicles (BEVs) working underground – at 10 mine sites, across four provinces, with more than 50,000 operating hours amassed.

While Africa as a whole might not yet have the energy infrastructure in place to fully leverage these ‘green’ BEVs – many mines remain off grid and reliant on diesel power – Theunissen has seen grid-connected miners in South Africa show interest in taking on these machines.

“In South Africa there is already appetite for BEVs,” he said. “We see it coming through in the RFIs (request for information) we get on projects.”

MacLean has an advantage over some of its competitors when it comes to converting these RFIs into sales.

Not only has it got thousands of operating hours under its belt, it also has engineers in place that can calculate the total cost of ownership savings a specific mine will achieve should they bring BEVs into their fleets. Due to the increase in upfront cost currently seen when comparing diesel- with battery-powered vehicles, this type of analysis is crucial to securing orders.

“We can show them how the machine will fit into the mining cycle and provide in-house calculations on ventilation and mine design savings,” Theunissen said. “This helps assist end users when it comes to long-term decision making for the mine.”

For countries in Africa to get on board the electrification train like those mines in Canada have, Theunissen thinks governments will need to introduce incentives for mines to change their energy inputs and adopt BEVs.

Should this happen, MacLean will be equipped both within the continent and internationally to take on that challenge.

Capital Drilling solidifies safety commitment with new Epiroc Explorac RC rig

Capital Drilling says it has added a brand new Epiroc Explorac 235 reverse circulation drilling rig to its exploration line up in Mali.

The contractor, which is currently carrying out drilling contracts for the likes of Altus Strategies/Glomin, Hummingbird Resources and Resolute Mining in Mali, said the new rig features fully radio remote-controlled operation and pipe handling.

Epiroc says the Rig Control System, or RCS, with radio remote allows for these tasks to be carried out.

Such facilities keep the crews up to 40 m from the operating rig and remove manual rod handling – “these features further support our company’s strong commitment to keeping our employees safe”, Capital Drilling said.

The on-board 35 bar compressor on the rig also provides capacity to drill to depths up to 450 m, it added.

Epiroc says the rig comes with a maximum torque of 14,000 Nm, a rod length of 6 m and a pull force of 220 kN.

Micromine helps Indiana Resources plot next exploration steps at Saboussire

Indiana Resources is using MICROMINE’s exploration and 3D mine modelling software to help secure and maintain the integrity of data relating to a sizable gold anomaly, with a value of over 50 parts per billion (ppb), at its tenements in West Africa, the mining software company says.

High-grade soil sample results from the company’s Saboussire site, in western Mali, indicate a large gold anomaly stretching 2 km by 1 km, and a 9,610 ppb (9.6 g/t Au) result from the central portion of the licence which has been earmarked for immediate follow up, MICROMINE said.

The company has identified two new zones of interest and is preparing for the next phase of exploration after assaying 271 anomalous samples, with values over 20 ppb Au. The samples were visually reviewed by geologists with the data, and related information, stored in a validated database and available for further interrogation.

MICROMINE Technical Product Manager, Gordon Thomas, said: “The Micromine application, which is a core component in our integrated suite of specialist mining software, gives users an in-depth understanding of their projects. This means prospective regions like this can be targeted more accurately, which increases the chance of project success.

“Storing key exploration data in a Micromine database enables resource owners to optimise the information they have available and manage exploration and modelling activities all in one place.

“In the early phases of exploration, such as the sampling program conducted by Indiana Resources, the software creates an accurate picture of the results by enabling fast and flexible data import, export, entry, editing, processing and validation.

“This information is safely stored for further analysis, modelling, estimation, design, optimisation and scheduling at a later date, using the range of functional modules included in the latest version of the leading software solution, Micromine 2020.”

Indiana Chairman, Bronwyn Barnes, said the encouraging results warranted further exploration and the company was now focused on kicking off the next phase of exploration on several priority targets.

AGG looks to fast track Kobada gold project on SENET engineering outcomes

SENET has completed the engineering assessment on an expanded output scenario at African Gold Group’s Kobada gold project, in southern Mali, which suggests throughput could exceed the definitive feasibility study target of 100,000 oz/y.

The assessment outlines a 3 Mt/y run of mine feed combined with a gravity circuit and a carbon-in-leach (CIL) section at Kobada, which has a global resource base of over 2.2 Moz of gold, African Gold Group says.

The positive result of the metallurgical test work, which confirmed the potential for consistent gold recovery of 96% across all ore types, up from 80% previously, has allowed SENET, a subsidiary of DRA Global, to design a plant offering the flexibility to treat all ore types from the Kobada gold project, the company said.

“Incorporating experience at other West African operations, the plant is designed with ease of construction and operation as a priority,” African Gold Group said. “The simplified flowsheet (which minimises the requirement for expensive and long lead process equipment) is expected to also reduce the construction schedule to roughly 18 months from 22 months. Overall power consumption is expected to be low given the soft nature of the ore at Kobada.”

Danny Callow, Chief Operating Officer of the company, said: “Our flexible and robust oxide processing plant requires low power and uses proven technology able to treat our blend of saprolites and laterites. Our gravity and CIL process provides a 96% recovery of gold with low reagent consumption and low power requirement. All of these components contribute to a low all in sustaining cost and competitive capital cost.”

He added: “At current gold prices, we are keen to advance this project to construction as soon as possible.”

Some of the time saving mentioned by Callow is due to SENET having completed a significant amount of the detailed engineering on the Kobada process plant, as well as identifying international suppliers able to provide the capital equipment in the shortest possible timeframe, the company said.

Hugo Swart, Operations Director of SENET, said: “The positive results out of the test work program has allowed SENET to complete the front end engineering design for the entire plant. SENET has furthermore progressed large sections of the plant to a point of detailed engineering stage.

“The progress we have made in the last few months will no doubt allow African Gold Group to develop the project rapidly. We are also exceptionally pleased that we were able to complete this work on time and significantly under budget given the challenging circumstances of COVID-19.”

The update forms a major part of the DFS, which is expected to be delivered this quarter.

First Wärtsilä Modular Block destined for Resolute’s Syama gold mine

Wärtsilä has announced the first order of its innovative new Wärtsilä Modular Block solution for power generation to Aggreko, with four Wärtsilä Modular Block enclosures – with one medium-speed Wärtsilä 32 engine in each – to provide 40 MW of energy to Resolute Mining’s Syama gold mine, in Mali.

The Modular Block order was placed by Aggreko in November 2019 and the contract is the first one signed under the cooperation agreement between Wärtsilä and Aggreko, announced in June.

The pre-fabricated, modular, and expandable enclosures feature medium-speed Wärtsilä 32 and 34 family engines, can run on a variety of fuels and can operate as a re-deployable power generation solution, according to Wärtsilä. “The Wärtsilä Modular Block solution can be installed in a matter of weeks, and can be expanded to accommodate increased energy needs. Similarly, it can be dismantled and relocated to alternative locations as and when required, making it highly suited to temporary power generation,” Wärtsilä said.

Resolute announced last month that it was partnering with Aggreko on this power solution, saying that the thermal element of the project was expected to be implemented in partnership with Wärtsilä using its new Modular Block technology and design.

“The Wärtsilä Modular Block solution will replace the existing diesel generators currently powering the mine,” the company said, adding that the high efficiency of the engines should result in “substantial monthly savings” in fuel costs.

It added: “Fast-starting and load following capabilities will facilitate the integration of renewables into the mine’s energy system. The mine will be powered by a reliable, flexible and affordable solution, which will help to enhance the mine’s environmental impact.”

Three Wärtsilä Modular Blocks, providing a total of 30 MW of power will be installed next to the existing power station in 2020. The fourth 10 MW Modular Block will be installed in 2022, with an option to add a fifth 10 MW unit to the power plant.

Stephane Le Corre, Strategy and Development Director at Aggreko, said: “The Wärtsilä Modular Block supports our technology investment strategy and, when included as part of a hybrid solution, has enabled us to offer Resolute an extremely cost-effective solution for 16 years.”

Jean Nabb, Director, Strategic Partnerships, Wärtsilä Energy Business, said: “The Wärtsilä Modular Block solution opens up exciting new opportunities, both for permanent and rental electricity generation. We are delighted to be partnering with Aggreko in this rapidly growing market, and this first order is encouraging for the future success of our cooperation.”

Under the agreement between Aggreko and Wärtsilä, Wärtsilä will provide the technology and design for the core power generation equipment, with Aggreko incorporating Wärtsilä’s Modular Block enclosure and power generation within its Rental/Power Solutions sales offering.

B2Gold to soak up solar power at Fekola gold mine

B2Gold, in its June quarter results, has provided an update on its plans to install a solar plant at its Fekola gold mine in Mali.

The company said it completed a preliminary study to evaluate the technical and economic viability of adding a solar plant to the site, during the quarter, with the results indicating it was a very “solid project” and that a plant of around 30 MW of solar generating capacity with a significant battery storage component would provide the best economic result.

A second study has now been completed to establish the detailed capital and operating cost analysis for the project. Results indicated that a solar plant can provide significant operating cost reductions (estimated to reduce processing costs by some 7%), with the project approved by the B2Gold Board in the June quarter.

The company said: “The Fekola Solar Plant will be one of the largest off-grid hybrid solar/heavy fuel oil (HFO) plants in the world.

“It is expected that it will allow for three HFO generators to be shut down during daylight hours, which will save about 13.1 million litres of HFO per year, at a capital cost of approximately $38 million, of which $20 million is expected to be incurred in 2019, with the balance in 2020.”

The solar plant is scheduled for completion in August 2020 and has a four-year payback, B2Gold said.

At Fekola, the company is currently weighing up an expansion that could see the life of mine could extend into 2030, including significant estimated increases in average annual gold production to over 550,000 oz/y during the five-year period 2020-2024 and over 400,000 oz/y over the life of mine (2019-2030).

Back in May 2018, B2Gold celebrated the official opening of the Otjikoto gold mine solar plant, in Namibia, one of the first fully autonomous hybrid plants in the world.

At the time, B2Gold said it would allow the company to significantly reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the site’s current 24 MW HFO power plant. The shift to a HFO solar hybrid plant was, at that point, expected to reduce Otjikoto’s HFO consumption by around 2.3 million litres and reduce associated power generation fuel costs by approximately 10% in 2018.

In the company’s 2018 results, B2Gold said the plant was now providing close to 13% of the electricity consumed on site and the plant had achieved its expected HFO consumption and power generation fuel cost results.