JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Mining firm Gold Fields is set to begin the construction of a 40MW (megawatts) solar plant at the South Deep Mine after it received approval from the board of directors.
The firm has said the construction of the South Deep plant will begin during the second quarter of 2021 and commissioning of the plant is expected to be in the second quarter of 2022.
The company signed off on the construction of the plant following a three-and-a-half-year application process.
The 40MW solar plant which is estimated at R660 million will comprise 116,000 solar panels and cover 118 hectares.
The South Deep mine will generate more than 20% of the mine’s average electricity consumption.
“We are the first South African mine to build and operate our own solar plant of this scale. This will ensure greater reliability of power supply and reduce the cost of electricity, which currently makes up about 13% of the mine’s operating costs. “Gold Fields new CEO Chris Griffith said in a statement.
The firm said that the use of self-generated renewable energy will translate into annual savings of around R120 million.
According to the company, renewable power accounts for 3% of its global electricity use. This is expected to rise to 11% once the plant is commissioned.
Compared to other Gold Fields subsidiaries, South Deep mine has a higher emission intensity since it solely uses coal-fired electricity.
The plant is also expected to create 240 temporary jobs during the construction phase and a team of 12 people will be needed once it starts operation.
“A broad range of stakeholders stand to benefit more from the mine’s activities. A profitable mine and a sustainable business can continue to employ and develop employees, contribute to community development, support the livelihoods of local suppliers and add to the fiscus in the form of taxes and royalties.”
The company hopes to source goods and services (for the construction) locally, preferably within South Africa.