Gold Fields’ board of directors have given the green light for the construction of a 40MW solar plant at the South Deep mine in South Africa.This follows the granting of a licence by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa on 25 February 2021. The 40MW solar plant will generate over 20% of the average electricity consumption of the mine. It will comprise 116 000 solar panels which covers 118ha – roughly the size of 200 soccer fields and will be on mine property. “We are the first South African mine to build and operate our own solar plant of this scale. This will ensure greater reliability of power supply and reduce the cost of electricity, which currently makes up about 13% of the mine’s operating costs,” commented Chris Griffith, Gold Fields CEO. The estimated capital investment for the plant is R660m, including contingencies and escalation. This will be funded from the mine’s positive cash-flows over the next two years. The use of self-generated, renewable energy will translate into savings of around R120m on the cost of electricity a year. South Deep is currently finalising procurement strategies and contractor criteria for the construction of the plant, which will begin during Q2 2021. The plant is expected to be commissioned during Q2 2022. “Importantly, it 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,” Griffith added.
During 2020, renewable electricity averaged 3% of Gold Fields Group electricity. Once the South Deep project is commissioned, renewable’s contribution to the Group total will rise to approximately 11%.