Total Eren, Chariot land 40MW PV deal for South African mine as the industry continues shift to solar

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The mining industry, which is increasing turning to solar for power, causes massive GHG emissions but is also crucial to the production of solar modules via mineral extraction. Image: Pixabay

South African mining company Tharisa has signed an agreement with renewables developer Total Eren and African energy company Chariot to build a 40MW solar PV project to power its mining operations as more of the country’s heavy industries turn to solar.

The memorandum of understanding (MoU) plans for Total Eren and Chariot to develop, finance, construct, own, operate and maintain the plant that will supply power to Tharisa’s eponymous metals mine in northern South Africa.  

It is a precursor to the signing of a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) for the supply of electricity on a take-or-pay basis, Tharisa said in a statement, adding that demand was expected to increase over the 50-year lifespan of the mine.

“Projects such as this solar development are achievable with the commitment from our company as well as the commitment from our partners in this venture,” Tebogo Matsimela, head of ESG at Tharisa said as he challenged other businesses in the mining sector to do more.

The news follows recent announcements by the mining sector in both South Africa and abroad as the industry seeks to decarbonise its operations. In November last year, the South African mining industry said it would deploy 3.9GW of renewables and storage after public utility Eskom called on the industry to do more.

And in October 2021, Eskom signed an MoU with mining companies Exxaro and Seriti Resources to deploy solar PV for their mines.  

Meanwhile, Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto is looking to deploy an additional 6GW of solar and wind in Australia as part of a new plan to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030.

In the US, gold mining group Newmont said it will invest US$500 million over the next few years in solar and wind technology in an effort to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

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