The board of directors of the platinum group metals (PGMs) mining firm Northam Platinum has approved the construction of 3 renewable energy projects and a hydrogen project at three of the company’s mines. Alet Coetzee, Northam Platinum CFO announced that a 10 MW solar power facility at Zondereinde PGMs mine in Limpopo, as well as two smaller renewables facilities at Booysendal and Eland mines, had received board clearance.

“At Eland, we’ll also execute a very tiny hydrogen project,” Coetzee said during a press roundtable after the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed company releases record financial figures for the year ended June 30. “As a green metals manufacturer, we believe we should be concerned about our carbon footprint.” So, as part of the business plan activities, the board authorized these three minor renewable energy projects a few months ago.

“I have to add a caveat to that. We really completed all of the work and preparation before the change in legislation, when there was a 10 MW cap and buffer,” she said, referring to the fresh 100 MW limit. “We’re also looking into other prospective prospects, such as wind farm development. It’s still early stages for us, but it’s something we’re keeping an eye on.

“As you can see, Eskom is on our danger list, both in terms of price and availability.” “It’s something we’ll be addressing across the group in a coming couple of years,” Coetzee added. “We can’t take Eskom’s place.” Northam CEO Paul Dunne stated, “We can supplement Eskom with green technologies, particularly photovoltaic (PV) solar electricity.”

“Wind has some potential, but it’s tough due to geographic differences.” Eskom continues to be a source of concern for us, and I believe that in the mid-decade period in especially, we were very concerned about Eskom’s power supply and, of course, the price of that power.

“In particular, there is a strong business case for PV. We could probably have a four-and-a-half-year return on that project if we self-build and have ground for the ten MW facility at Zondereinde, which is good. It’s not a long-term retaliation. It’s relatively short, which means we can grow from 10 MW to something greater over time,” Dunne explained. “We have the real estate in all of our enterprises to do that,” Coetzee added.

“We see a lot of opportunity for electrification of the slow-moving vehicles, particularly bolters and drill rigs,” Dunne said of decarbonization ambitions. The Zondereinde mine is a long-running, well-established enterprise that mines upper group 2 (UG2) as well as Merensky ore and generates about 300,000 oz of refined 4 elements (4E) PGMs from its operations each year. The mine is close to the town of Thabazimbi, on the northern side of the Bushveld Complex’s western limb.

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