Africa|Building|Construction|Energy|Environment|Financial|Flow|Indaba|Manufacturing|Mining|Power|PROJECT|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|Solar|Storage|System|Systems|Technology|Flow|Manufacturing |Products|Solutions|Operations
Africa|Building|Construction|Energy|Environment|Financial|Flow|Indaba|Manufacturing|Mining|Power|PROJECT|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|Solar|Storage|System|Systems|Technology|Flow|Manufacturing |Products|Solutions|Operations

Electrolyte plant nearing operation

27th January 2023

By: Nadine James

Features Deputy Editor


Font size: - +

Integrated vanadium producer and energy storage solutions provider Bushveld Minerals notes that the construction of the Bushveld Electrolyte Company’s (BELCO’s) electrolyte plant – which is located in East London, in the Eastern Cape – and the Vametco hybrid mini-grid – which is located in Brits, in the North West province – are on track, with both set to achieve operation in the first half (H1) of 2023.

“Construction of the BELCO electrolyte plant is more than 80% complete and is expected to enter into operation in H1 with an eventual ramp-up to eight-million litres a year. The ramp-up period can be accelerated to meet short-term market demand,” says Bushveld Minerals CEO Fortune Mojapelo.

In 2022, BELCO undertook a qualification process for its electrolyte with vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) companies in preparation for electrolyte sales later this year.

Bushveld Minerals notes that the BELCO electrolyte plant is the largest publicly announced plant outside China and its production capacity can be increased to 32-million litres a year to meet medium-term demand.

Meanwhile, the company notes that solar modules and inverters for its hybrid mini-grid construction were delivered to site last year, and the VRFB is on track for delivery in H1 2023. Commercial operation is still anticipated for the end of H1.

The R113-million mini-grid comprises a 3.5 MW solar photovoltaic system and a 1 MW/4 MWh VRFB. It is the first of its kind in South Africa and will serve as a reference site as well as a proof-of-concept for VRFB systems combined with renewable power in this market.

Bushveld Minerals notes that it intends to ensure that there is enough vanadium mined in South Africa to meet the country’s future demand, while also creating vanadium-based products for global markets.

“Our South African operations put us in pole position to take advantage of the potentially large demand that can be generated across the African energy sector. We are deliberately building capacity and partnering with VRFB companies to innovate and grow as the world moves to cleaner energy sources.”

This growth is evidenced by increasing interest in the VRFBs manufactured by Bushveld Energy subsidiary Enerox, as well as in South Africa-based manufacturing of electrolyte.

“In the preceding 12 months, Enerox has announced five new orders for 34 MWh Cellcube systems, which includes a 16 MWh battery to an Australia-based renewable project developer – the company’s largest battery order to date,” says Mojapelo.

Consequently, Bushveld Minerals, which is carving out Bushveld Energy, hopes to complete the separation in 2023, to allow Bushveld Energy to capitalise on new opportunities in the VRFB space.

Bushveld Minerals notes that vanadium demand from VRFB developers is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of about 56.7% through to 2032. It also cites the World Bank Group’s long-term scenarios, which expect vanadium to be the fifth-most sort-after mineral as a direct consequence of the global energy transition, with 2050 energy-based demand alone being nearly double the entire 2018 market.

Despite the favourable demand forecasts and growing interest in vanadium-based energy solutions, Bushveld Minerals is cautious of the looming threat of a global recession. It cites the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook, which states: “Global economic activity is experiencing a broad-based and sharper-than-expected slowdown, with inflation higher than seen in several decades. “The cost-of-living crisis, tightening financial conditions in most regions, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the lingering Covid-19 pandemic all weigh heavily on the outlook.”

From Bushveld Minerals’ perspective, the elevated inflationary environment will continue to put pressure on costs across the sector, which it hopes to mitigate by increasing production throughput rates and continuing efforts to reduce costs.


Having noted the adverse impact of loadshedding on, particularly, the Vanchem operations in consecutive results presentations, the company is exploring various solutions to try to reduce loadshedding’s effects.

Vanchem, which purchases its power through the Emalahleni municipality, experiences periods of total power loss – rather than curtailment, which occurs at Vametco – during loadshedding, resulting in almost total shutdown of the plant.

As such, Bushveld Minerals intends to supplement grid power by, primarily, focusing on generation from solar, which is “by far the cheapest source of energy at the scale required by Vametco and Vanchem”.

Further, solar, when coupled with VRFB technology, can reduce electricity costs and carbon emissions, in addition to providing a measure of resilience against loadshedding.

Vanchem is actively engaging with the local municipality to implement a load curtailment solution. “A bilateral technical team from Vanchem and the municipality is preparing the necessary technical hardware to migrate to the curtailment regime that would signal a marked production improvement for Vanchem,” relays Mojapelo.

Moreover, Bushveld Minerals, in collaboration with the Bushveld Energy team, is developing battery storage and renewable-energy import options for Vanchem.

Bushveld Minerals representatives will be attending the Investing in African Mining Indaba, which will be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from February 6 to 9.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter




SAIMC (Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Mechatronics and Control)
SAIMC (Society for Automation, Instrumentation, Mechatronics and Control)

Education: Consulting with member companies to obtain the optimal benefits from their B-BBEE spending, skills resources as well as B-BBEE points

Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions
Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions

Sandvik Rock Processing Solutions is a leading supplier of equipment, tools, parts, service and solutions for processing rock and minerals in the...


Latest Multimedia

sponsored by

Photo of Martin Creamer
ARM, GoldOre, Gautrain make headlines
22nd September 2023
Magazine cover image
Magazine round up | 22 September 2023
22nd September 2023
Resources Watch image
Resources Watch
21st September 2023

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?







sq:0.116 0.156s - 172pq - 2rq
Subscribe Now