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Richards Bay Minerals (Rio Tinto Group) and Voltalia Ink 148 MW Solar Corporate PPA in South Africa

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Voltalia, an international player in renewable energies, announces that it has concluded a CPPA1with Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), an international leader in mineral sands extraction, subsidiary of Rio Tinto, for the largest renewable energy site dedicated to a corporate client in South Africa.

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The power purchase contract was signed after a process launched in 2021 by Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), South Africa’s largest mineral sand producer and a subsidiary of Anglo-Australian metals and mining group Rio Tinto. The 20-year contract will supply around 300 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy every year via a wheeling arrangement to RBM’s smelting and processing facilities in KwaZulu-Natal.

With this CPPA, RBM will enjoy more reliable long-term access to power while reducing its annual greenhouse gas emissions (scope 1 and 2) by at least 10%, or 237,000 tons per year, the equivalent of removing more than 50,000 cars from the road.

The electricity will be generated by Voltalia’s Bolobedu site, a 148-megawatt solar plant to be built in the Limpopo province in north-eastern South Africa. The power plant will benefit from the region’s good solar conditions and grid availability. It will generate green electricity for a volume equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of more than 425 000 inhabitants. Voltalia will ensure the development, construction, and operation of the plant. It is expected to begin generating in 2024.

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As part of its mission, Voltalia will work to ensure the Bolobedu solar project has a positive impact on the environment and on the surrounding communities by creating local employment opportunities. A total workforce of more than 700 people is expected during construction, with a workforce of around 50 people once the plant becomes operational. In support of South Africa’s growing renewable energy sector value chain, Voltalia will also work to source goods and services locally.

Rio Tinto Minerals Chief Executive Sinead Kaufman said, “The agreement, which is a first step towards reducing RBM’s carbon emissions, is a major milestone and one that is in line with Rio Tinto’s decarbonization strategy. As this solar energy project progresses, we will continue exploring additional renewable solutions that further reduce our emissions in South Africa and make Richards Bay Minerals a contributor to our net zero commitment”.

Voltalia CEO Sébastien Clerc said, “We are very pleased to support RBM as it decarbonizes its industrial activities in South Africa. The Bolobedu photovoltaic power plant will be our biggest project in Africa, after performing construction of a series of other solar plants for us or for clients, in the continent (Zimbabwe, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritania, and Egypt). This project is the first of our South African large solar-and-wind portfolio under development, in areas with grid connection available, that will be ready to support our clients to overpass the actual energy crisis with affordable, clean, and stable electricity”.

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