Home » Richards Bay Minerals Secures 140 MW Wind Energy Deal

Richards Bay Minerals Secures 140 MW Wind Energy Deal

New Agreement Boosts RBM's Renewable Energy Use and Cuts Emissions

by Adenike Adeodun

Richards Bay Minerals (RBM) has recently announced a major renewable energy project. The project involves a 140 MW wind energy deal with Khangela Emoyeni Wind Farm, aiming to reduce RBM’s yearly carbon emissions by 20%.

RBM, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, extracts heavy mineral sands in northern KwaZulu-Natal, which are used in various products, such as paints and smartphones. In 2022, RBM teamed up with Voltalia for the Bolobedu solar PV plant in Limpopo. This plant is projected to satisfy 17% of RBM’s energy needs by producing up to 300 GWh of renewable energy annually.

The new agreement with Khangela Emoyeni Wind Farm will secure 140 MW of wind energy. This farm straddles the Western and Northern Cape provinces. The Khangela Emoyeni Wind and Bolobedu Solar projects will supply 42% of RBM’s energy needs. These projects also promise job creation and skills development in local communities.

RBM’s power consumption can reach up to 400 MW at full capacity. Implementing renewable energy is financially beneficial, especially during high-tariff winter seasons. Werner Duvenhage, MD of RBM and Rio Tinto Iron and Titanium African operations, expressed determination to decarbonize operations.

The Rio Tinto group aims to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050. The Khangela Emoyeni Wind Farm will help reduce RBM’s yearly carbon emissions by 470,000 tons of CO2-equivalent emissions. It will also reduce RBM’s reliance on traditional energy sources by 26%.

The 20-year agreement includes African Clean Energy Developments (ACED), The IDEAS Fund, Reatile Group, and Rand Merchant Bank. Energy Infrastructure Management Service (EIMS) Africa will manage the project. The Khangela Emoyeni Wind Farm is expected to produce 460 GWh of renewable energy annually.

Through a wheeling agreement with Eskom, the state power utility, this energy will power RBM’s operations in Richards Bay. The project is expected to reach commercial operation within 28 months. ACED GM James Cumming highlighted the dual benefit of providing clean energy to RBM and alleviating South Africa’s power crisis.

Michael Wickins, Chief Commercial Officer of EIMS Africa, mentioned that ACED has developed 1.7 GW of renewable energy projects since 2008. They are currently working on an additional 4.5 GW of wind and 4.5 GW of solar projects. The total capital expenditure for these projects is over R45 billion.

EIMS Africa, established in 2017, oversees a gigawatt of renewable energy projects, all located in South Africa and mainly owned by Old Mutual’s IDEAS Fund. This includes 16 utility-scale projects under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme and the private market. Additionally, four more projects are under construction and are being co-managed with ACED.

Source: Mining Weekly

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