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Mining group to jettison fossil power from its SA operations

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Global mining company Anglo American, with a portfolio in diamonds, platinum, copper, iron ore and more, has signed an MoU with a renewable energy company for its South African operations.

The energy firm, EDF Renewables, will work with the mining house towards developing a regional renewable energy ecosystem (RREE). The ecosystem is expected to be designed to meet Anglo American’s operational electricity requirements in South Africa through the supply of 100% renewable electricity by 2030, thereby also supporting the resilience of the local electricity supply systems and the wider decarbonisation of energy in the country.

The RREE will draw on South Africa’s natural renewable energy potential to develop a network of on-site and off-site solar and wind farms, amongst other opportunities, offering 24/7 renewable energy to Anglo American operations. The mining company anticipates that several partners will provide equity financing for the RREE, in addition to the RREE attracting debt financing that is typical for high-quality energy infrastructure projects.

The concept is achievable as Anglo American has already secured 100% renewable electricity supply for all its operations in South America. This achievement has resulted in 56% of their global grid supply expected to be sourced from renewables by 2023. However, while there is an abundance of renewable energy sources in South Africa, there is limited renewables infrastructure to harness it.

As Anglo American progresses towards its 2040 target of carbon-neutral operations, this partnership with EDF Renewables is designed to abate the largest single source of its Scope 2 emissions, being its current grid supply in South Africa. The RREE aims to support South Africa’s decarbonisation ambitions and the country’s Just Energy Transition, creating a sustainable and inclusive future.

Nolitha Fakude, Chair of Anglo American’s Management Board in South Africa, said: “South Africa is embarking on the next phase of its economic development, with clean, reliable and affordable energy playing a critical role in delivering this potential – helping to catalyse new industrial hubs and stimulate local economic activity … we intend to incorporate a local Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) partner into our regional renewable energy ecosystem and are exploring a range of community partnership models that will allow our host communities to share in the ecosystem’s success.”

About turn from fossil fuel power for mining operations

The partnership is expected to bring a host of benefits to South Africa and the region, including:

  • implementing 3-5GW of renewable electricity (solar and wind) and storage over the next decade, thereby increasing total grid supply resilience;
  • supporting the decarbonisation initiatives of governments across Southern Africa; and
  • stimulating the development of new economic sectors, local production and supply chains.

Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American, said: “We are targeting carbon neutrality across our operations by 2040 and we are making good progress. Today’s announcement is a further major step towards addressing our on-site energy requirements – the largest source of our operational emissions.

“Our partnership with EDF Renewables to address our Scope 2 footprint in South Africa complements our FutureSmart Mining programme’s abatement of our Scope 1 emissions through low and zero-emission technologies, including our hydrogen haul truck system, and the development of South Africa’s Hydrogen Valley.

“Step by step, we are changing the very nature of mining and how our stakeholders experience our business – while supporting a Just Transition,” he concluded.

Bruno Bensasson, EDF Group Senior Executive Vice President Renewable Energies and Chairman & CEO of EDF Renewables, commented: “This project is also contributing to the country energy’s ambition to furthering the development of decarbonised energy. It is in line with EDF Group’s CAP 2030 strategy, which aims to double its net renewable installed energy capacity worldwide (hydropower included) from 28GW in 2015 to 60GW in 2030.”

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