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Centamin prepares to commission solar plant at Sukari gold mine in Egypt

Sukari mine plant. (Image courtesy of Centamin.)

West Africa-focused gold miner Centamin (LON:CEY) (TSX:CEE) said on Thursday it was very close to making its Sukari mine in Egypt a solar power-fuelled operation.

The company, which is in the final stages of commissioning a solar plant at the mine, said it had already seen a reduction in fuel consumption and energy costs.

The solar plant, which is made up of a 36 MW solar farm and 7.5 MW battery–energy storage system, has been consistently delivering 36 MW DC, converting to 30 MW AC of power, since early September, Centamin said. 

The reduction in exposure to volatile fuel pricing is saving Centamin up to 70,000 litres of diesel per day and averaging a reduction in fuel consumption of 22 million litres per year, according to company.

Based on current diesel prices, this means the plant has the potential to provide annual cost savings of $20 million, alongside an expected reduction in Scope 1 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of 60,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year, and a subsequent reduction in volume of diesel trucked to site.

Centamin also said it continues to be engaged in talks with the Egyptian government and independent power providers to assess the opportunity to use their power grids at Sukari.

The mine is optimally located within Egypt’s Eastern Desert, which has some of the highest levels of solar irradiance globally, averaging over ten hours of sunshine a day throughout the year.

CEO Martin Horgan noted that Egyptian grid power is generated from natural gas and a mix of renewables, such as hydro, solar and wind. This, he said, opens a path for Sukari to further reduce its GHG emissions.

The executive highlighted the potential for further cost savings. Egyptian industrial grid tariffs are significantly cheaper than the cost of power generation using diesel fuel, he noted.  

“The solar plant and potential to integrate grid power will contribute materially to our environmental stewardship philosophy and our strategic objective of maximizing returns for all stakeholders,” Horgan said in the statement.

Once fully commissioned, expected to happen in the present quarter, the facility will be the largest hybrid solar project at an off–grid mining operation.