Momentum is building in the first quarters of 2022 for hybrid power solutions for the mining industry in Africa. The approval of a solar and battery system at the Balama Graphite Operation in Mozambique reflects a move toward cost savings and sustainability given the increasing risks associated with global energy supply chains.
The escalation in energy prices due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is hurting the countries that are most dependent on energy imports. In African markets, high-consumption industrial and commercial companies are feeling the pinch. South Africa, for example, recently launched a call for proposals to private producers to supply an additional 2,600 megawatts of renewable energy.
CrossBoundary Energy President Pieter Joubert says, “Right now, solar and wind power are cheaper, cleaner electricity options for commercial and industrial businesses, particularly mining. The mining industry is looking to improve cost structures to increase margins and ensure a strong balance sheet during these uncertain times. Renewable energy solutions can typically save up to 30% on electricity costs and generate an attractive return on capital due to low initial capital costs.”
As a result, CrossBoundary Energy is experiencing increased demand for its hybrid power systems designed specifically for the mining sector. CrossBoundary Energy’s approach to the industrial renewable energy transition has seen some of the largest hybrid mining projects in Africa launch in recent months:
Operation Balama Graphite – Mozambique
On average, the 11.25 MWp solar and 8.5 MW/MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) at Balama Graphite Operations will reduce diesel consumption for power generation by 35%. During peak daylight hours, the solar battery system will be able to supply up to 100% of Balama’s power requirements, taking advantage of the high solar irradiance potential of the site location. The renewable energy system is forecast to save ~US$8 per tonne at a production rate of 15kt per month.
CrossBoundary Energy is delivering this project under a build-operate-transfer agreement, which includes a 10-year operating lease and an operation and maintenance contract. The solar battery system was approved by the Syrah Resources board of directors in April 2022 and is scheduled to be commissioned and operational before the end of March 2023.
QIT Minerals Madagascar (QMM) – Madagascar
The 8MW solar, 12MW wind and 8.25MW BESS solution located in Fort Dauphin, Anosy, Madagascar will provide 60% of QMM’s power, making it the largest renewable penetration project for a mine in Africa . The project is expected to reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions from the mineral sands operation by approximately 40,000 tons. Groundbreaking took place in December 2021 with operations expected to begin in mid-2022. The project is financed by CrossBoundary Energy through a 20-year power purchase agreement with Rio Tinto that will see CrossBoundary Energy build, own and operate the hybrid renewable energy plant.
Molo Graphite Mine – Madagascar
The 2.5 MW solar, 1 MWh BESS and 3.3 MW thermal power system at Molo Graphite Mine will reduce the total cost of electricity, reduce total maintenance costs and minimize carbon emissions. CrossBoundary will supply the hybrid solar and thermal power system to power operations at the mine owned by NextSource Materials for a period of 20 years. The system has been designed to scale with Molo Graphite Mine and ensure 100% power availability.
Matthew Fredericks, Director of Business Development for Mining at CrossBoundary Energy, explains: “We have seen a massive change in the mindset of mining houses, particularly in executive decision-making, not only in Africa but globally. The requirement to control operating costs coupled with the pressure to reduce greenhouse gases has never been more apparent than in recent months.CrossBoundary Energy’s fully funded solutions and ability to move quickly intersect beautifully with the declining costs of renewable technology. Using our solutions, mining companies can focus their attention and funds on core revenue-generating processes while ensuring cheaper, more efficient and cleaner energy projects in the long term.”
The ongoing energy transition and the future of mining are interlinked themes of the Mining Indaba 2022 conference taking place May 9-12, 2022 in Cape Town, South Africa. CrossBoundary Energy will be present at the conference presenting its hybrid energy solutions for mining.