Rio Tinto announced on 26 July that it has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with CrossBoundary Energy for the development of a renewable hybrid project to supply its QIT Madagascar Minerals’ (QMM) ilmenite mine in Fort Dauphin. The 20-year PPA will see CrossBoundary build, own, and operate the plant.
The facility will comprise an 8MW solar PV plant using 18,000 panels, a nine-turbine wind farm, and an 8.25MW lithium-ion battery system to provide system stability and reserve capacity. It will supply up to 60% of the mines energy demand as well as supplying electricity to around 80,000 people in Fort Dauphin.
“Emissions from electricity use in mining is estimated to account for around 1% of all greenhouse gases globally”, CrossBoundary Energy cofounder and managing partner Matt Tilleard said. “Rio Tinto is leading the way in demonstrating how mines can seize a huge opportunity to reduce these emissions. We are focused on delivering cleaner power to businesses and were therefore able to offer Rio Tinto a flexible, fast, all equity funding approach.”
Construction of the solar PV plant is scheduled to begin this year, with commercial operations following in early 2022. Construction and commercial operation of the wind plant is expected in 2022. The renewable project will move Rio Tinto towards achieving its target for its Madagascar operations to be carbon neutral by 2023.
QMM is a joint venture between Rio Tinto and the Madagascan government, owning 80% and 20% of the venture respectively. QMM includes the deep-water Port d’Ehoala and also produces zirsill and monazite. The Fort Dauphin mine is currently powered by a 23.8MW diesel plant made up of six Wärtsilä nine-cylinder type 32 generating sets.
Image: Fort Dauphin ilmenite mine renewable power project. Source: African Energy Live Data
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