South African mining companies could spend 60 billion rand ($3.8 billion) on renewable energy projects, helping to ease the country’s electricity supply crisis.
The industry is planning 3,900 megawatts of solar, wind and battery energy projects, which could supplement supplies from state-owned utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., Roger Baxter, chief executive officer of Minerals Council of South Africa, said Tuesday in a statement.
In June, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the limit on companies producing power without a license would be raised to 100 megawatts from 1 megawatt, clearing the way for miners to start generating their own electricity. South Africa experienced record outages this year, stifling an economic rebound from the pandemic in the continent’s most industrialized economy.
“There is a pressing need for the mining industry to supplement Eskom electricity supply,” said Baxter, who almost doubled his projection of the power capacity planned by the lobby group’s members from 2,000 megawatts in September.
To expedite those projects, the government should accelerate environmental impact assessments, according to the council, which represents the largest miners in South Africa. The industry, including the world’s top platinum and rhodium producers, is the country’s biggest user of electricity.
Sibanye Stillwater Ltd. plans to build 475 megawatts of solar and wind-power capacity, while Anglo American Platinum Ltd aims to start generating about 100 megawatts of renewable power at its Mogalakwena mine from the end of 2023. Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. is weighing options to use solar power at all its mines in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
While miners would still need Eskom’s base-load supplies, the planned renewable projects would help limit companies’ carbon tax obligations and lower electricity costs, the council said.
(By Felix Njini)