Photo by: Bloomberg
Midtier Africa-focused gold producer Pan African Resources has signed an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement with renewable energy company Juwi Renewable Energies for an 8.75 MW ac (10.47 MWp) solar photovoltaic (PV) facility at the Barberton Mines’ Fairview operation, in Mpumalanga.
Pan African expects the solar facility will provide cost savings of R26-million in year one, before averaging R40-million a year in cost savings over the life of the plant.
The plant will also reduce the company’s carbon dioxide emissions by about 22 000 t/y.
Additionally, Pan African has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Sturdee Energy for a 40 MW wheeled renewable energy solution, with the generation capacity being available to any of Pan African’s operations.
The company is also progressing feasibility studies to expand the Evander Mines’ 10 MW solar PV facility by at least another 12 MW, and to build a solar PV facility for the Mogale tailings retreatment plant, which Pan African recently acquired from Mintails.
Following the successful implementation of all the projects, Pan African estimates it will generate 28% of its power requirements through renewable energy, with a cumulative reduction in emissions of 137 000 t/y and yearly cost savings of about R150-million.
Juwi also undertook the EPC contract for Pan African’s Evander Mines’ 10 MW solar facility in May last year, which marked the first utility-scale, grid-tier solar plant in the South African mining industry.
The new facility, at Fairview, is expected to operate for more than 25 years, which is sufficient for the mine’s current 20-year life-of-mine.
Pan African says the Fairview solar facility will be financed on a ring-fenced debt basis, similar to the Evander solar facility.
The company has obtained financing proposals from a number of interested parties, which should be finalised by June.
Pan African CEO Cobus Loots comments that the solar PV renewable energy initiatives are key components in the company’s renewable energy strategy and achieving its sustainability targets.
“In addition to measurably reducing the group’s carbon emissions, these projects will assist in stabilising the electricity supply to our operations, while also realising commensurate cost savings that will assist in reducing our overall all-in sustaining cost per ounce of production in the longer term,” he adds.
The wheeled renewable energy solution agreed with Sturdee Energy will involve wheeling power from Sturdee’s 40 MW solar PV plant in Bela-Bela, Limpopo, to any of Pan African’s operations.
The initial PPA term is ten years, with the option to extend it for another five years.
Pan African says the indicative tariffs over the extended 15-year period will be significantly lower than that expected from Eskom.
The Bela-Bela solar facility is anticipated to provide about 112 399 MWh/y of renewable energy to Pan African, resulting in an estimated R646-million cost savings over a ten-year period, and R884-million over a 15-year period.
Further tariff savings are possible if the 40 MW Bela-Bela project is scaled up to its permitted 75 MW. The initial solar facility has obtained the key permits required for construction, including environmental approvals, a water-use licence and rezoning approvals.
The plant will be funded by third-party financial institutions, with no upfront contribution from Pan African. It will be connected to the Eskom grid through a 132 kV line, in the area of Bela-Bela.
The PPA will become effective upon commissioning of the Bela-Bela solar facility, which is estimated to take place during 2025.
Sturdee currently operates more than 600 MW of renewable energy projects in South Africa.