Australian resources company Orion Minerals is looking to tap a combination of around 35MW of solar and wind energy generation to power its flagship Prieska zinc-copper mining project in South Africa.
ASX-listed Orion said on Tuesday that it had signed a renewable energy collaboration agreement with global outfit juwi to assess the feasibility of establishing a dedicated solar and wind hybrid power plant at Prieska.
Orion said the preliminary scope of the agreement would look at generating and supplying 35MW of electricity for the mine, located in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province.
The hybrid wind and solar system would be located within 20km of the Prieska Project, making the establishment of a dedicated feed via an overhead power transmission line possible.
“This agreement is in line with our strategy to make best use of (the project’s) geographic advantage,” said Orion managing director and CEO, Errol Smart.
“This region has the highest irradiance levels in the country with its hot, dry climate and is also very well-suited for wind farms.
“It is already a well-established renewable energy generating region with 190MW of solar power plants in operation and 240MW of wind power currently under construction immediately adjacent to our Prieska Project.”
Smart said adding renewables at Prieska could only improve its long-term power supply security, while also cutting its draw from the grid and reducing Orion’s carbon and water footprint.
“Our decision to pursue renewable power supply options is another illustration of our commitment to build a modern 21st century mine at Prieska that employs innovative technologies and embraces sustainability.
“Investing in a long-term renewable energy solution also makes perfect sense for a long-life production asset such as Prieska.”
The company chosen to conduct the feasibility study, juwi Renewable Energies, has notched up considerable expertise in delivering off-grid renewable solutions for mining companies, including in Australia.
In 2016, it set the standard for off-grid solar and battery storage in the mining industry with a 7MW solar and battery storage (6MWh) facility at the DeGrussa copper and gold mine in remote Western Australia – alongside the mine’s existing 19MW diesel-fired power station.
As we reported here, that $40 million project was one of the largest of its kind in the world at the time, and was designed to supply DeGrussa’s daytime electricity requirements with solar and storage, and offset about 5 million litres of diesel fuel a year.
In South Africa, juwi has built five utility-scale solar plants totalling 121MW and developed the 138MW Garob Wind Farm, which will soon start construction. A further three solar projects (totalling 250MW) currently under construction.