- RBM of Rio Tinto Group has entered a 20-year PPA with Voltalia for its 148 MW Bolobedu Solar PV Plant in South Africa
- It will source 300 GWh of clean energy from the plant once it comes online in 2024, via wheeling arrangement
- Power supplied will be used by RBM for its smelting and processing facilities in KwaZulu-Natal province
A subsidiary of global metals and mining giant Rio Tinto, Richard Bay Minerals (RBM) has entered a 20-year corporate power purchase agreement (CPPA) with French renewables company Voltalia for the ‘largest’ renewable energy site dedicated to a corporate client in South Africa.
Under the agreement, Voltalia will supply around 300 GWh of renewable energy annually from 148 MW solar power plant that it plans to build in Limpopo province. The project is scheduled to start commercial operations in 2024. It was selected through a competitive procurement process launched by RBM in 2021.
“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, in the continent (Zimbabwe, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, Mauritania and Egypt),” said Voltalia CEO Sébastien Clerc. “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.”
The French company will supply RBM around 300 GWh solar power annually via a wheeling arrangement to its smelting and processing facilities in KwaZulu-Natal province. Here, RBM mines mineral rich sands to produce ilmenite, rutile and zircon. A joint venture between Rio Tinto and Blue Horizon, RBM has been operating in the province since 1976 and is the largest mineral sands producer in South Africa.
The arrangement with Voltalia will enable RBM to reduce its annual GHG emissions under Scope 1 and 2 by at least 10% or 237,000 tons annually.
“The agreement, which is a first step towards reducing RBM’s carbon emissions, is a major milestone and one that is in line with Rio Tinto’s decarbonization strategy. As this solar energy project progresses, we will continue exploring additional renewable solutions that further reduce of our emissions in South Africa and make Richards Bay Minerals a contributor to our net zero commitment,” stated Rio Tinto Minerals Chief Executive Sinead Kaufman.
Recently another mining company Anglo American launched a joint venture called Envusa Energy with EDF Renewables to source clean energy for its local sites in South Africa, starting with 600 MW renewable energy under phase I (see Envusa Energy Kickstarts With 600 MW RE In South Africa).