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Richard’s Bay Minerals to install renewable energy at mining site

Richard’s Bay Minerals (RBM), is set to have renewable energy developed at a site in the province of Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.

The project follows an inked deal between the Rio Tinto’s South African mining company, with power company Voltalia. Works will involve construction of 148 megawatt Bolobedu Solar PV project at a site in the province of Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal.

The site will have the capacity to generate up to 300 gigawatt hours of renewable energy a year and will feed into the national power grid to supply RBM’s smelting and processing facilities. The project will be begin in 2023 and will take a year. More than 700 people are set to be employed during construction period and around 50 people once the plant becomes operational.

Black Economic Empowerment

Voltalia will ensure local Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) partners benefit from the agreement, which is due to cut RBM’s annual greenhouse gas emissions by at least 10% per year. its goods and services for the project will also be sourced locally.

“We are very pleased to support RBM in its decarbonisation journey. 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, on 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,” Voltalia CEO Sébastien Clerc said.

The Bolobedu Solar PV power plant will be 51% black-owned through BEE partners, with a minimum 10% stake going to black women. RBM principally produces 85% pure titanium dioxide slag as well as pig iron and zircon.

Currently South Africa depends on coal for more than 80% of its electricity, but its plan to phase out coal has been hailed as a model for other coal-dependent developing countries seeking to transition to cleaner energy. The government has set up $8.5bn plan for the transition to renewable energy.

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