Renewable energy is rapidly being adopted by mining companies as the combination of off-grid power and cheaply available renewables offers a strong business case.
Another African gold mine is preparing for a solar plant. Power producer Total Eren, mining operator Nordgold and Mauritius-based mining and industrial client renewables developer the Africa Energy Management Platform have signed an agreement to build a 13 MW solar project plus a battery storage system.
Nordgold said the facility will be constructed in Burkina Faso where the corporation runs two key assets, the Bassi and Bouly mines, in close proximity.
Construction will start shortly with completion expected in the fourth quarter of next year. The single-site project will power both mining operations. The mines currently share a thermal power plant, said Nordgold. Once the PV plant goes online, generator consumption can be reduced by 6.4 million liters of heavy fuel oil per year, cutting 18,000 tons of carbon emissions.
“At Nordgold, we are deeply committed to our role as a responsible miner and constantly strive to minimize the impact that our operations have on the local environment,” said CEO Nikolai Zelenski. “By building this new solar power plant, not only will we improve the efficiency of our mines by creating a more secure power supply at lower cost, but we are also helping to make our Burkina Faso mines far more sustainable while minimizing our carbon footprint.”
Nordgold also highlighted a reduction in mine operating costs and said operation and maintenance of the plant would create several full-time jobs.
This year has brought a cluster of renewable energy mining project announcements. With pilot projects proving the value and reliability of clean energy generation, mining operators are now considering solar, wind and hydrogen systems as a cheap and reliable addition to diesel and heavy fuel oil generators.
The remote nature of mining operations ensures operators have to ship in generator fuel. Using on-site solar can dramatically reduce energy costs. Power giant Engie recently announced a plan to convert huge spoil removal trucks operated by Anglo American at its mines to run on hydrogen fuel cells.