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Richards Bay Minerals signs agreement for additional 140 MW of renewable energy

Site where wind farm is being developed.

Richards Bay Minerals latest renewable energy announcement covered by Mining Weekly’s Martin Creamer. Video: Creamer Media’s Nicholas Boyd.

Site where wind farm is being developed.

6th June 2024

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – A second renewable-energy project has been announced for heavy mineral sands extraction and refining company Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), which mines in northern KwaZulu-Natal and produces materials used in a wide range of everyday products, from paints to smartphones.

In 2022, the Rio Tinto group company signed a renewables agreement with Voltalia for the Bolobedu solar PV plant in Limpopo. which is currently in progress and which is anticipated to meet 17% of RBM’s power consumption by generating up to 300 GWh/y of renewable energy.

Now, RBM has signed a renewable power purchase agreement with Khangela Emoyeni Wind Farm to secure 140 MW of wind energy from a new wind farm that straddles the Western and Northern Cape provinces, which is expected to reduce RBM’s yearly carbon emissions by 20%. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

Combined, the Khangela Emoyeni Wind and Bolobedu Solar projects will supply 42% of RBM’s existing energy needs and present opportunities for job creation, skills development, and knowledge transfer within local communities surrounding the project sites during both the construction and operational phases.

When operating at full capacity, RBMs, power consumption across its mining and smelting operations can reach up to 400 MW and the implementation of renewable energy is financially beneficial to RMB, especially during the high-tariff winter seasons.

RBM and Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium African operations MD Werner Duvenhage expressed determination to find better ways to produce the materials the world needs “and decarbonising our operations is one of them”, he told a media conference in which Mining Weekly participated.

The Rio Tinto group has committed to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050 and the Khangela Emoyeni Wind Farm has the potential to reduce RBM’s yearly carbon emissions by 20% – which equates to 470 000 t of CO2-equivalent emissions – and reduce the Richards Bay company’s existing reliance on traditional energy sources by 26%.

Parties to the latest 20-year agreement include African Clean Energy Developments (ACED), The IDEAS Fund (managed by African Infrastructure Investment Managers), investment holding company Reatile Group, and Rand Merchant Bank. Energy Infrastructure Management Service (EIMS) Africa will be responsible for asset management for the project.

Once constructed, the Khangela Emoyeni Wind Farm is expected to produce 460 GWh/y of renewable energy and, through a wheeling agreement with State power utility Eskom, will help power RBM’s operations, which are in Richards Bay.

The project, with an export capacity of 140 MW, is expected to reach commercial operation within 28 months.

“Not only will Khangela Emoyeni Wind Farm provide RBM with clean energy for their operations, but it will also help alleviate South Africa’s power crisis,” ACED GM James Cumming commented.

Chief commercial officer EIMS Africa Michael Wickins noted that ACED, which has been in operation since 2008, has developed 1.7 GW of renewable-energy projects, with a further 4.5 GW of wind and 4.5 GW of solar projects in development, all of it in South Africa. Unlocked has been renewable-energy developments with capital expenditure value of more than R45-billion rand.

EIMS Africa, formed in 2017, manages a gigawatt of renewable-energy projects, also all in South Africa and all majority owned by Old Mutual’s Ideas Fund. This consists of the operation of 16 utility-scale projects in both the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme space and the private market space, with a further four in construction that are being co-managed with ACED.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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