B2Gold approves investment in hybrid energy system for Fekola mine
Canadian gold miner B2Gold (TSX: BTO) has approved a $3 million investment to build an offgrid solar battery hybrid system at its Fekola mine in Mali. Construction is set to start at the end of this year, with completion scheduled for August 2020.
The approval follows the completion of a preliminary study earlier this year done by Germany-based solar project consultancy Suntrace and its partner BayWa to evaluate the technical and economic viability of adding the solar battery plant to the mine site.
“It is a strong commitment by B2Gold to build such a significant solar-battery plant as a fuel saver for the Fekola mine,” Suntrace COO Martin Schlect said.
According to Schlect, this project is a landmark in terms of battery and photovoltaic (PV) plant size with respect to an offgrid project.
The PV-battery system will be integrated with the existing power plant to ensure safe and reliable operation of the hybrid plant and achieve fuel savings of 13.1 million litres of heavy fuel oil (HFO) a year. Electricity for the Fekola mine site is currently being generated exclusively using HFO and diesel generators.
The addition of the 30 MW net capacity solar battery plant will allow the mine to shut off up to three HFO engines during day, with a 13.5 MWh battery storage component providing the buffer for the irradiation fluctuations.
In March, B2Gold announced that it plans to invest $50 million into expanding the Fekola mine, which could take the operation’s processing throughput to 7.5 million tonnes a year, up from the current six million tonnes.