South Africa headquartered gold mining company, Gold Fields Ltd., has announced that it is on track to commission the 50 MW solar energy project at its South Deep mine, south-west of Johannesburg, during the Q3 of this year. The announcement was made by Gold Fields’ CEO last week on the sidelines of the African Mining Indaba conference.
Griffith said that the solar energy facility, which is being constructed at an estimated investment of R715 million (US$44 million), will start producing power for the company’s South Deep operations in August 2022.
The gold producer’s CEO also revealed that the company was given approval to increase the capacity of the solar power plant to 60 MW, and is also studying the prospects of adding wind power.
The 50MW solar facility will occupy about 118ha in area, roughly the size of 200 soccer fields, and will be on the mine’s property. Around 101,000 solar panels will be installed on the solar plant, with electricity generation expected to meet close to 24% of South Deep mine’s yearly electricity needs.
Social and environmental impact of the solar plant
Gold Fields says around 240 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the project, while a team of 12 people will be required to operate the plant once operational. The company also says goods and services required to build the plant will be sourced locally within South Africa.
Commenting on the environmental impact the solar plant will have on the mine, Gold Fields CEO, Chris Griffith said the plant; “will reduce our carbon footprint by around 100,000 tonnes of CO2 a year, not only enhancing the sustainability of South Deep but also contributing to Gold Fields’ long-term commitment to carbon neutrality.”
Gold Fields implemented solar and wind power plants, backed by battery storage, at two of its Australian mines, Agnew and Granny Smith. The company also committed to install renewable energy at its other Australian mines, Gruyere and St Ives, as well as the Salares Norte project in Chile when it starts operations in 2023. All its other mines are also reviewing renewable energy options.