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Africa-focused gold producer, Pan African Resources Plc, has commissioned a 10 MW solar photovoltaic plant at its Evander Gold Mines. The power plant is the first solar PV facility of this capacity to be commissioned by a gold mining company in South Africa.
The EPC contract for the solar energy project was awarded to the South African subsidiary of German renewable projects developer juwi Group. The site establishment and construction work started in the first quarter of 2021 on the rehabilitated land owned by Evander Mines.
The solar PV plant will supply electricity to the gold producer’s Elikhulu surface retreatment operations. Pan African Resources says the renewable energy plant will provide around 30% of Elikhulu’s power requirement. Built at a construction cost of R150 million (US $9.4 million), the plant is expected to achieve electricity cost savings estimated at R3 million per month.
The plant is built on 20.1 hectares of land and contains 26,640 solar PV modules. The solar plant contains 222 STi Norland single-axis sun trackers for maximum utilization of solar energy. A switching station of 6.6 kV MV is located on the site with a 507 m long 6.6kV overhead line which is connected to the mine’s electrical network.
Cobus Loots, CEO of Pan African Resources, said, “Reducing our carbon emissions is just one of the ways Pan African is ‘Mining for a Future’, and forms part of our integrated, beyond-compliance approach in support of our environmental, social, and governance principles. We will continue with energy independence and decarbonization initiatives at all our operations, with another 20MW of solar capacity scheduled to be constructed in the next two years.”
Loots further mentioned that in addition to carbon emission reductions, the solar PV plant will provide a secure and stable power supply, while at the same time ensuring the management of future cost pressures resulting from the inflation in electricity tariffs. The jobs and skills developed during the Pv facility construction will be retained for its expansion phase of 12 MW to power Evander mine’s underground operation.
Pan African Resources is also investigating the implementation of agriculture projects at the solar project site which will create sustainable local employment opportunities and maximize land utilization. The gold producer is finalizing its roadmap to decarbonization with an additional 8 MW solar plant and battery storage facility to be constructed at its Barberton Mines in 2023.