Ivanhoe Mines has become an alternative power shareholder with energy producer Renergen and has secured options to power its Platreef palladium-rhodium-nickel-platinum-copper-gold operations in South Africa with solar and liquid natural gas-powered electricity.
The company, which now owns a 4.35% share in its partner, said it has acquired the exclusive right to negotiate an offtake agreement for the electricity. The plant will initially have a 5-megawatt capacity.
Construction of Ivanhoe’s first solar power plant at the Platreef Mine is set to begin in April, with supply coming online for the mine in early 2023.
The solar-generated power from this initial plant, Ivanhoe officials noted, will first be used for mine development and construction activities, as well as for charging Platreef’s battery-powered underground mining fleet as it pushes toward further reducing its carbon dioxide emissions.
This turn at Platreef was made possible by a 2021 regulation by South Africa’s government, which officially raised the licencing threshold for embedded generation projects from 1 MW to 100 MW – allowing miners much greater freedom to begin generating their own power.
“Powering our massive Platreef mine with reliable electricity generated by ‘green power’ options, such as solar and natural gas, offers a 24-hour-a-day alternative to the coal-fired national electrical grid and dramatically reduces Platreef’s carbon emissions,” said executive co-chair Robert Friedland.
“A power plant running on natural gas generates approximately 50% fewer carbon dioxide emissions than one burning coal.”
Ivanhoe reported that there is rapid progression on construction at Platreef; initial production is expected from the first phase of operations in the third quarter of 2024. At the time of that phase of operations, the miner Platreef will require approximately 30 MW of installed electrical power, and subsequently about 100 MW for its Phase 2 operations at full production.
Ivanhoe indirectly owns 64% of the Platreef project through its subsidiary, Ivanplats. The South African beneficiaries of the approved broad-based, black economic empowerment structure have a 26% stake in the Platreef Project.
The remaining 10% is owned by a Japanese consortium of ITOCHU; Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation; ITC Platinum Development; and Japan Gas.
Platreef is located in the Bushveld Complex northeast of Johannesburg. The power facility will be built at the Virgnia gas project in the Witwatersrand Basin, about 600 kilometres from the mine.