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Partnership to boost regional energy offering

SOLAR COMMITMENT The commitment to solar battery hybrid projects underscores the company’s dedication to environmental responsibility

UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY Africa, which is characterised by abundant solar energy potential, presents a unique opportunity

13th October 2023

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

     

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A planned strategic combination of South African petroleum and lubricants company Engen and fuels and lubricants company Vivo Energy, aimed at establishing a significant energy distribution company in Africa, stands to notably influence the energy sector across the continent, according to Vivo Energy power head Alistair Jessop and mining head Alex Caldwell.

On completion of the transaction, Vivo Energy stands to broaden its sphere of influence, which it will use to make energy solutions accessible to a more extensive array of mining companies across the African landscape.

The company underscores a dual commitment to growth and sustainability, they say, highlighting that Africa, which is characterised by its abundant solar energy potential, presents a unique opportunity to reduce carbon emissions by increasing the use of renewable sources in the overall energy mix.

Though subject to ongoing regulatory approvals and the fulfilment of requisite conditions, the combined Vivo Energy and Engen group will preside over a network of more than 3 900 service stations and a storage capacity exceeding two-billion litres across 27 African nations. South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), eSwatini and Lesotho will be added to the Vivo Energy network.

This extended footprint has significant implications for the provision of energy resources to a broader and more diverse clientele, say Jessop and Caldwell, who note that the primary goal is to better serve customers and grow the combined business.

They highlight that Africa offers unique conditions for solar power, with exceptional photovoltaic potential and cost-effective solar panel technology, meaning that harnessing renewable energy not only reduces operational costs for miners, but also significantly cuts carbon emissions, contributing positively to sustainability.

“Vivo Energy's demonstrated commitment to solar battery hybrid projects, such as the one implemented at the Nampala gold mine in Mali, underscores our dedication to environmental responsibility. These initiatives not only reduce carbon footprints but also impart cost-efficiency to mining operations,” Jessop and Caldwell note.

Specifically, the Nampala project reduces the mine's carbon footprint by about 60 000 t over a decade and lowers energy costs by displacing over 30% of diesel use with reliable, low cost renewable energy.

Financially, Vivo Energy funds the project on an all-equity basis, ensuring timely energy supply to mining clients, with what it says is a straightforward contracting structure, and reducing financial risks.

Following the successful Nampala project, Vivo Energy and Canadian mining exploration and development company Robex Resources have signed an exclusive agreement to provide a solar hybrid solution to the Kiniero gold mine, in Guinea, which is four times larger than the one found at Nampala.

This initiative is expected to provide over 40% of the power requirements of the gold mine, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 27 000 t yearly.

Vivo Energy’s power division has numerous opportunities in the pipeline and intends to continue expanding and developing solar hybrid power solutions for the mining sector.

However, a pivotal outcome of the Vivo Energy-Engen partnership lies in its capacity to unlock new avenues for growth, Jessop and Caldwell say, noting that Vivo Energy, particularly through its specialised power division, has been a “trailblazer” in advancing renewable-energy solutions, primarily within the mining sector.

Financially, the partnership affords a twofold advantage. Firstly, investments in renewable-energy solutions enable mining companies to curtail energy expenditure – a pivotal factor in financial optimisation.

“The partnership aligns with the global trend witnessed in the mining sector, marked by a transition towards renewable-energy sources. Endeavours such as the integration of a solar power plant at the Houndé gold mine, in Burkina Faso, underscore the dual benefits of environmental responsibility and fiscal prudence,” Jessop and Caldwell state.

Holistic Solutions

Vivo Energy's commitment to the industry extends beyond energy provisioning. Its comprehensive approach to fuel, lubrication and power solutions is customised to address the multifaceted challenges confronting African mining operations.

From extending the life span of equipment, to the optimisation of fuel efficiency, reduction of downtime, and lowering of total ownership costs, the company's offerings constitute a holistic empowerment strategy for mining enterprises, according to Jessop and Caldwell.

In addition, safety remains a priority of Vivo Energy's operational ethos, evidenced in the company’s safety record and rigorous adherence to health, safety, security, environment and quality standards.

Vivo Energy offers support through expert consultation, comprehensive training and continuous guidance at various phases of the mining process, thereby helping clients operate efficiently and improving safety standards.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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