Tag Archives: renewables

Gold Fields wins NERSA approval for South Deep solar power plant

Gold Fields says it has received the electricity generation licence approval from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) for the construction of a 40 MW solar power plant at its South Deep gold mine in the country.

The acting CEO of NERSA now has to authorise the licence, a decision that should be forthcoming over the next two weeks, the miner said. All the regulatory approvals to proceed with the project will then be in place.

Gold Fields will update its definitive costings and finalise all the required internal processes to commence the project as soon as possible. The company has stated previously that the solar plant has the potential to provide around 20% of South Deep’s average electricity consumption.

Nick Holland, Gold Fields CEO, said: “The solar power plant will increase the reliability and affordability of power supply to South Deep, ultimately enhancing the long-term sustainability of the mine.

“The approval of this licence sends a strong, positive message to mining companies and their investors, potentially leading to decisions being taken to sustain and grow mining operations in the country, especially in deep-level, underground, marginal mines. Enabling companies to generate their own power also gives Eskom room to address operational issues at its power plants.”

Gold Fields says its energy objectives are based on four pillars – energy must be reliable, available, cost-effective and clean – which promote a shift to self-generation using renewable energy sources. “We are fully committed to making our contribution towards net-zero emissions,” Holland says.

During 2020, Gold Fields successfully implemented solar and wind power plants, backed by battery storage, at two of its Australian mines, Agnew and Granny Smith, and committed to renewables at its other Australian mines, Gruyere and St Ives, as well as the Salares Norte project in Chile when it starts operations in 2023. All its other mines are also reviewing renewable energy options.

Since full commissioning of the Agnew microgrid, renewable electricity averages over 55% of total supply at the mine.

During 2020, renewable electricity averaged 8% for the Australia region and 3% of total group electricity, Gold Fields said. Once the South Deep project is commissioned, renewable’s contribution to the group total will rise to around 11%.

Holland concluded: “We expect our investment in renewable and low-carbon energy sources to contribute significantly to our carbon emission reductions over the next few years. Power from the South Deep solar plant will partially replace coal-fired electricity from Eskom, enabling us to significantly reduce our Scope 2 carbon emissions.”

juwi South Africa to build solar PV plant at Pan African’s Evander Mines

Pan African says it has entered into an engineering, procurement and construction (EPCM) agreement with juwi South Africa to construct its 9.975 MW solar photovoltaic plant at Evander Mines in the country.

Construction will commence in the March quarter of 2021, with first power expected in the September quarter of 2021, it said.

Part of the international juwi Group, juwi South Africa is one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies. To date, juwi South Africa has built six utility scale solar plants totalling 207 MW under the South African Government’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme, Pan African said.

The Evander Mines solar photovoltaic plant will utilise bi-facial module technology to maximise its yield and it will be constructed on previously disturbed land owned by Evander Mines, Pan African said. The plant will provide an estimated 30% of Elikhulu’s power requirement during daylight hours and is expected to materially reduce electricity costs at this operation. Furthermore, the Evander solar photovoltaic plant is expected to enhance the reliability of the power supply during daylight hours and result in an expected CO2 saving of more than 26,000 tonnes in its first year of its operation.

Elikhulu has capacity to process an estimated 1 Mt/mth of tailings with a projected output of approximately 55,000 oz/mth of gold.

The total cost of the Evander solar photovoltaic plant is ZAR140 million ($9.4 million), with a calculated payback on this investment of less than five years, Pan African said.

“This solar photovoltaic plant further reduces Elikhulu’s environmental impact and is just one of a number of initiatives in the group’s commitment to producing high-margin ounces in a safe and efficient manner, while investing in local communities and minimising the environmental impact of operations,” it added.

Pan African is also assessing the merits of expanding the Evander Mines solar photovoltaic plant in due course to provide for a clean energy feed to its Egoli project, and of a similar solar photovoltaic plant at the group’s Barberton Mines operations.

Pan African CEO, Cobus Loots, said: “The Evander Mines solar photovoltaic plant is integral to the group’s purpose of ‘Mining for a Future’ and pursuing ESG initiatives that go beyond compliance. This plant will be one of the first of its kind in the South African mining space. We look forward to commissioning the operation during 2021, on budget and on schedule.”

Aggreko to help power up Colluli potash project

Aggreko has been appointed as the preferred power supply contractor for the 12 MW heavy fuel oil (HFO) power plant at the Colluli potash project in Eritrea, Danakali has reported.

The power company will provide a full scope of support services for the supply, commissioning, and maintenance of the power plant, then transfer to the jointly-owned Colluli Mining Share Company (CMSC), under a five-year buy-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) contract. Aggreko will also provide the funding for the power solution, which provides certainty over delivery of this preferred solution, Danakali said.

The choice of the BOOT agreement is due to the equipment being available now and not needing to be built, Danakali, a 50:50 owner of CMSC along with the Eritrea government, said. This will also de-risk the development schedule, it added.

The costs of the power solution provided by Aggreko over the five-year contract period is lower than the front-end engineering design study results, according to Danakali.

Aggreko is funding the capital expenditure required for the power plant and all equipment will be transferred to CMSC at no extra cost at the end of the contract period, Danakali explained. This power solution is scalable and can increase/decrease according to CMSC’s needs, it added.

The agreement between Aggreko and CMSC is subject to the conclusion of ongoing negotiations to optimise the scope of works, contract pricing and execution; and board approval of the final investment decision for Colluli.

In July, the Eritrean Ministry of Energy & Mines paved the way for construction to start at the project after accepting the Colluli Notice of Commencement of Mine Development.

Niels Wage, CEO of Danakali, said: “We are very pleased to announce the appointment of Aggreko as our single power provider. With 55 years of experience in delivering high-quality, reliable service to a large number of projects, we are confident they have the capabilities to provide our power needs for Colluli.

“At the early stages of the project development, the HFO solution will provide us with flexibility and reliability, and as confirmed by social and environmental impact assessment, Colluli will have a relatively small impact on the environment. Going forward, once project development is in more of a steady state, we will look to diversify our energy sources towards renewables available in the Danakil region, as per our commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions.”

John Lewis, Managing Director, Africa – Aggreko, added: “Our extensive experience in Eritrea and knowledge of the local market means that we are ideally placed to provide a solution which meets the specific needs of Danakali and deliver a reliable power supply for this project.”

Colluli has a JORC-2012 compliant measured, indicated and inferred resource of 1,289 Mt at 11% K20 equivalent and 7% kieserite.

Voltalia to build 12 MW solar plant at Caledonia’s Blanket gold mine

Caledonia Mining, having raised the required funds to invest in the construction of a solar power plant to supply electricity to the Blanket gold mine in Zimbabwe, has appointed Voltalia as the contractor for the project.

Voltalia is an international renewable energy provider and has considerable experience in the delivery of renewable energy projects including the development, construction, operation and maintenance of solar power plants. It is already active notably in Burundi, Malawi and South Africa, according to the company.

Caledonia and Voltalia have agreed an initial design phase for the project after which, subject to the conclusion of an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract, procurement and construction are expected to begin with current indicated commissioning for the 12 MW solar plant in the December quarter of 2021.

On completion, the solar plant is expected to provide approximately 27% of the mine’s total electricity demand, significantly reducing the risk to the mine of any further deterioration in the quality of grid power which would necessitate increased use of diesel generators (which are substantially more expensive than grid power), the company said, adding that the plant will also reduce Blanket Mine’s environmental footprint.

Microsoft urges South Africa miners to adopt digital solutions in recovery plans

Microsoft South Africa says it is working with its partner ecosystem and customers to showcase the power of technology, particularly AI and cloud technologies, in helping the country’s mining industry accelerate digital transformation to “reimagine new and better ways of working, drive sustainable recovery, and transform mining communities”.

This follows the launch of Microsoft’s Mining Core – AI Centre of Excellence for Mining facility in Johannesburg earlier this month. The Mining Core, which is the first of its kind in South Africa, makes use of the company’s extensive partner ecosystem. “It allows customers to immerse themselves in emerging technologies to build and create solutions that not only overcome specific business challenges but also broadly enable the sector to grow and prosper,” Microsoft said.

Amr Kamel, Enterprise Director at Microsoft South Africa, explained the industry’s importance to South Africa: “Mining is a critical industry in South Africa, and has historically been a major contributor to the country’s GDP, tax revenue and employment: last year alone, the mining sector employed over 450 000 people, contributed ZAR24.3 billion ($1.5 billion) in taxes and ZAR360.9 billion to GDP.”

The sector has faced challenges in recent years. These include declining output, weakening global cost competitiveness based on the volatility of commodity prices, regulatory uncertainty and unreliable energy supply, according to a report by the country’s Minerals Council.

Combined with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become clear the sector needs solutions that help it regain its competitiveness and become a key contributor and driver of economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic.

Technology holds the key to achieving those goals, according to Microsoft.

“Accelerated digital transformation, and the introduction of solutions through emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and data analytics, have the power to help the industry adapt, reinvent and transform in a sustainable and responsible way,” it said.

Kamel added: “Together with our partner ecosystem, we are working to help our customers to navigate three phases – response, recovery, and reimagine – in order to maintain continuity, remain open, drive operational performance and create new business models even in the most difficult of circumstances.”

These solutions, which are conceptualised and built collaboratively, are anchored in four main areas: community services and social impact; health and safety; environment; and responsible digital transformation.

  • Community involvement and engagement is vital for mining companies, and these organisations can use technology to play an important part in empowering surrounding communities, Microsoft says. This includes building critical digital literacy skills that will help the employability of community members, as well as introducing solutions in areas like healthcare, education, agriculture and community support services;
  • Emerging technologies can also help with health and safety, which is always a priority but particularly so in the face of a pandemic. Introducing solutions using technologies like autonomous systems such as drones, drills and vehicles, cognitive services and video analytics for safety management, such as detecting if a worker is wearing a hardhat or protective clothing, can make an impact. These kinds of technologies can also be used to support and manage health and safety protocols related to the pandemic, including social distancing and hygiene measures, Microsoft says;
  • Mining companies are also increasingly using digital solutions to enable sustainable recovery and decrease their environmental footprint, using them to reduce water consumption, waste and work towards being carbon neutral or even carbon negative. A growing trend is companies operating in coal, specifically, pivoting to renewables; and
  • Above all, solutions that are introduced need to have responsible digital transformation and AI at their heart. “Responsible AI needs good guiding principles to ensure that systems are fair, reliable and safe, private and secure, inclusive, transparent and accountable, and we use our rich partner ecosystem to help with this,” Kamel said.

He concluded: “Digital is the future of mining, and the question now is how quickly companies in the sector can transform to drive growth. This requires partnering with technology companies like Microsoft to reimagine solutions that address specific business challenges and improve operational performance and efficiencies.”

BHP weighs trolley assist and IPCC as part of decarbonisation efforts

BHP has provided an update on its progress on climate action, new climate commitments and how it integrates climate change into corporate strategy and portfolio decisions in a new report.

The company’s climate change approach focuses on reducing operational greenhouse gas emissions, investing in low emissions technologies, promoting product stewardship, managing climate-related risk and opportunity, and partnering with others to enhance the global policy and market response, it says.

“BHP supports the aim of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C,” the company clarified.

It explained: “BHP has been active in addressing climate risks for more than two decades, and has already established its long-term goal of achieving net zero operational (Scope 1 and 2) emissions by 2050 and its short-term target of maintaining operational emissions at or below financial year (FY) 2017 levels by FY2022, using carbon offsets as required.”

In the past year, BHP has made progress on this aim, announcing that the Escondida and Spence copper mines in Chile will move to 100% renewable energy by the mid-2020s, and, last week, awarding new renewable energy contracts for its Queensland coal assets, and the world’s first LNG-fuelled Newcastlemax bulk carrier tender.

BHP’s climate change briefing and 2020 climate change report outline how the company will accelerate its own actions and help others to do the same, it said. Today’s update sets out:

  • A medium-term target to reduce operational greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30% from adjusted FY2020 levels by FY2030;
  • Scope 3 actions to contribute to decarbonisation in its value chain. This includes supporting the steelmaking industry to develop technologies and pathways capable of 30% emissions intensity reduction with widespread adoption expected post-2030 and, in terms of transportation, supporting emissions intensity reduction of 40% in BHP-chartered shipping of products;
  • Strengthened linking of executive remuneration to delivery of BHP’s climate plan; and
  • Insight into the performance of BHP’s portfolio in a transition to a 1.5°C scenario.

The report also outlined some examples of emission reduction projects the miner is considering, which will be weighed as part of the maintenance capital category of its capital allocation framework. This includes solar power installations; alternative material movement technologies such as overland conveyors and in-pit crush and convey solutions; and trolley assist to displace diesel for haul trucks.

The company expanded on this in its report: “The path to electrification of mining equipment will likely include solutions such as trolley assist, in-pit crush and convey, overland conveyors and battery solutions.

“Diesel displacement represents a higher risk, higher capital step towards decarbonisation, so a phased approach to execution is proposed with particular emphasis on Minerals Americas-operated assets that are further advanced on the decarbonisation journey. Taking a transitional approach to electrification provides flexibility to allow for the potential for rapid development of emerging technologies and to resolve the complexities of integrating these technologies into existing operations.

“During FY2021, we will seek to collaborate further with International Council on Mining and Metals members, industry and original equipment manufacturers to progress research and development to reduce costs and assess any potential impacts from electrified mining equipment solutions to replace current diesel options.”

BHP Chief Executive Officer, Mike Henry, said of the report: “I’m pleased today to show how we are accelerating our own actions and helping others to do the same in addressing climate change. We see ourselves as accountable to take action. We recognise that our investors, our people and the communities and nations who host our operations or buy our products have increasing expectations of us – and are responsive to these.

“Our approach to climate change is defined by a number of key requirements. Our actions must be of substance. They must be real, tangible actions to drive emissions down. We must focus on what we can control inside our business, and work with others to help them reduce emissions from the things that they control. To create long-term value and returns over generations, we must continue to generate value and returns within the strong portfolio we have today, while shaping our portfolio over time to benefit from the megatrends playing out in the world including decarbonisation and electrification.

“Our portfolio is well positioned to support the transition to a lower carbon world aligned with the Paris Agreement. Our commodities are essential for global economic growth and the world’s ability to transition to and thrive in a low carbon future. Climate change action makes good economic sense for BHP and enables us to create further value.”

Fortescue aims for net zero operational emissions by 2040

Fortescue Metals Group has become the latest company to announce plans to achieve net zero operational emissions.

The goal, which the company aims to achieve by 2040, is core to Fortescue’s climate change strategy and is underpinned by a pathway to decarbonisation, it said. This includes the reduction of Scope 1 and 2 emissions from existing operations by 26% from 2020 levels, by 2030, it said.

Other miners such as Vale, BHP and Rio Tinto have all made similar pledges in the last year.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Fortescue has a proud history of setting stretch targets and our 2030 emissions reduction commitment, together with our goal to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2040, positions Fortescue as a leader in addressing the global climate change challenge.

“Fortescue supports the Paris Agreement long-term goal of limiting global temperature rise to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and our emissions reduction targets align with this international objective. Our success will be founded on practical initiatives that will allow us to deliver on our targets in an economically sustainable manner.”

Gaines said since October 2019, Fortescue and its partners have announced investments in excess of $800 million in significant energy infrastructure projects to increase its renewable energy supply. These will be a key contributor to its pathway to achieving the emissions reduction targets, she added.

This includes the Chichester Solar Gas Hybrid Project, announced with Alinta Energy in October 2019. Currently under construction, the project will include a 60 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) generation facility at the Chichester Hub, comprising Fortescue’s Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mining operations. In addition, a circa-60 km transmission line will be built, with completion due mid-2021. This will link the Christmas Creek and Cloudbreak mining operations with Alinta Energy’s Newman gas-fired power station and 35 MW battery facility.

Another major investment is the $700 million Pilbara Energy Connect (PEC) program. This includes the $250 million Pilbara Transmission project, consisting of 275 km of high voltage transmission lines connecting Fortescue’s mine sites, and the $450 million Pilbara Generation project, comprising 150 MW of gas-fired generation, together with 150 MW of solar PV generation and large-scale battery storage. “The PEC project leverages existing assets and provides Fortescue with a hybrid solar gas energy solution that enables the delivery of stable, low cost power and supports the incorporation of additional large-scale renewable energy in the future,” the company says.

These two initiatives, together, will deliver 25-30% of Fortescue’s stationary energy requirements from solar power, according to Gaines.

Gaines added: “Mining is one of the most innovative industries in the world and Fortescue is harnessing this technology and capability to achieve carbon neutrality with a sense of urgency. In addition to the development of gas technology and renewables for our stationary energy requirements, we are working towards decarbonising our mobile fleet through the next phase of hydrogen and battery-electric energy solutions.”

In terms of hydrogen, Fortescue, in 2018, signed a partnership agreement with the CSIRO to develop its metal membrane technology, which provides the potential for the bulk transportation of hydrogen through ammonia.

Emissions data and performance against targets will be reported annually as part of Fortescue’s annual reporting suite, the company said. Baseline and annual emissions data will be calculated on a financial year basis.

While not included in the existing operations calculation, Iron Bridge – due to commence operation by mid-2022 – is likely to come with emissions reduction targets that align with Fortescue’s goal to achieve net zero operational emissions by 2040, the company said.

EDL brings 56 MW hybrid renewable energy project online at Gold Fields’ Agnew mine

Global energy producer EDL says it has successfully completed the 56 MW Agnew Hybrid Renewable project for Gold Fields’ Agnew gold mine in Western Australia.

All five wind turbines are now up and running and successfully integrated into Australia’s largest hybrid renewable microgrid, and the first in the country to power a mine with wind-generated electricity, it said.

In favourable weather conditions, the project has delivered up to 70% of Agnew’s power requirements with renewable energy, according to the company. This is significant as the Agnew mine consists of two underground complexes and one 1.3 Mt/y processing plant consisting of a three-stage crushing circuit, two-stage milling circuit, gravity circuit and carbon-in-pulp circuit.

Upon announcing the project in June 2019, Gold Fields and EDL said the A$112 million ($78 million) investment would help create a “world-leading energy microgrid combining wind, solar, gas and battery storage”.

The project comprises four key components controlled by an advanced microgrid system. This includes five 110 m wind turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 140 m, delivering 18 MW; a 10,710-panel solar farm generating 4 MW; a 13 MW/4 MWh battery system; and an off-grid 21 MW gas/diesel engine power plant.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided A$13.5 million ($8.7 million) in funding to the project as part of its Advancing Renewables Program.

EDL Chief Executive Officer, James Harman, said: “We applaud Gold Fields for their vision in embarking on this journey with us, and their role in leading the Australian mining industry’s transition to clean, reliable renewable energy.

“We also acknowledge the incredible achievement of the EDL project delivery team and our contractors. We faced transport challenges during the bushfires and impacts on personnel from COVID-19 restrictions, as well as geographical, logistics and technical challenges to safely construct this innovative energy facility in the remote WA Goldfields region.”

Gold Fields Executive Vice President Australasia, Stuart Mathews, said the completion of the project was an important milestone for Gold Fields, EDL and the broader mining industry.

“We are proud to be able to showcase this project with EDL as an outstanding example of the capacity of the hybrid renewable energy model to meet the dynamic power requirements of remote mining operations.

“For our people and our stakeholders, this is a very clear demonstration of our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint whilst strengthening our security of supply.

“Having built our internal technical capability and developed strong relationships with our business partners, we are well placed to continue to implement renewables solutions elsewhere in our business.”

Pacific Energy expands into solar and battery microgrid sector with Hybrid Systems buy

Pacific Energy is looking to strengthen its renewables focus having added solar and battery microgrid specialist Hybrid Systems Australia (Hybrid Systems) to the group.

Taken private in a deal last year involving funds advised by Australian diversified alternatives asset manager QIC, Pacific Energy has previously designed, built, and operated power solutions for miners in remote locations.

The addition of Hybrid Systems will help existing mining customers reduce their carbon footprint, while establishing a foothold for Pacific Energy in the fast-developing market for Stand-alone Power Systems (SPS) and microgrid systems, according to Pacific Energy Chief Executive Officer, Jamie Cullen.

“This transaction delivers a talented and cutting-edge team experienced in the integrated renewables market, where decentralisation, decarbonisation and cost reductions are generating significant new growth opportunities,” he said.

“We gain home-grown, in-house experience in the integration of renewable energy with traditional remote power generation technology. It’s closely adjacent and highly complementary to Pacific Energy’s core business.”

Pacific Energy will maintain the Hybrid Systems brand name and offer support to accelerate growth and capitalise on opportunities in the hybrid power systems market, he added.

Hybrid Systems offering includes the supply of integrated SPS, microgrid and battery energy storage systems ranging from 3 kW for single “fringe of grid” customers up to 10 MW microgrid systems for towns and mine sites.

Sandvik sustainability focus on show at Zimbabwe remanufacture facility

Solar power is energising Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology’s facility in Zimbabwe, with the mining OEM saving around 400 t/y of carbon dioxide emissions, it says.

The Harare-based operation, which focuses mainly on the remanufacture of Sandvik trucks, loaders, drills and bolters, kicked off its solar power journey in 2017 with an 18-month Phase One project. This included strengthening the roof of the remanufacture facility to accommodate the weight of some 400 solar panels.

Using local contractors and expertise, the project was soon generating 50 kW of power to the facility. In Phase Two, another 50 kW of capacity was added, with the installation now supplying about 75% of requirements. Plans are also in place to provide 100% of demand with another 30-50 kW of capacity.

Among new Sandvik sustainability goals outlined in 2019 across the group is an aim to halve the CO2 foot print from the company’s own production by 2030.

Ian Bagshaw, Territory Manager Zimboz – Southern Africa at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology, said: “This takes our Harare facility to the next level in terms of technology and sustainability.”

In an unusual design, the system operates with no battery storage, consuming the energy as it is generated. This substantially reduced the cost outlay for the project, enabling a payback period of just nine years, according to Sandvik.

The solar journey has not been limited to the facility’s buildings. Over the past year, it has also been extended to the homes of employees. In a pilot project, standalone domestic solar power systems were designed, tested and installed. The combined impact, so far, amounts to about 35 kW of renewable energy.

“We will provide loans to staff members wanting to install solar power at home, empowering them to further reduce climate impact,” Bagshaw said. “We will roll out this program in 2020 through an offer to all staff, and we expect an enthusiastic uptake.”

He estimates the company’s domestic solar program could soon produce a total of about 300 kW of renewable energy.

Bagshaw said the Harare workshop is fully accredited and works to OEM standards. “This high quality of workmanship allows us to provide full warranties on the machines we strip down and rebuild,” he said.

The facility is also an important training resource for Zimbabwe, developing diesel plant fitters, millwrights and electricians, according to Sandvik. It accommodates about 40 apprentices in training at any one time; currently around 30% of these are women. The facility also provides work-related learning to other companies’ employees in the region and is a government accredited trade testing centre, Sandvik says.