Richards Bay Minerals (RBM), a Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) company, has embarked on a significant stride towards renewable energy by inking a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with a new 140-MW wind farm in South Africa. The milestone agreement will aid RBM in powering its mining operations while reducing carbon emissions.

The wind farm, known as the Khangela Emoyeni Wind Farm, is strategically situated across the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces. The PPA to procure clean energy was co-signed by an impressive consortium of players – African Clean Energy Developments, the IDEAS Fund, Reatile Group, and Rand Merchant Bank.

As per the agreement, the wind farm is expected to churn out roughly 460 GWh of energy each year. This significant output will diminish RBM’s carbon emissions by an estimated 20%, marking a tremendous leap toward environmental sustainability for the mining giant.

The electricity generated from the wind farm will not directly reach RBM’s operations. Instead, it will be channeled to RBM’s facilities in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, by Eskom, South Africa’s utility company, through a wheeling agreement.

Moreover, reaching commercial operation within a 28-month framework is the target set for the wind farm. This rapid development timeframe will ensure that RBM doesn’t have to wait long to reap the environmental and economic benefits of the agreement.


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But the wind farm is not the lone green energy source for RBM. The mining company will also receive renewable power from the Bolobedu solar farm, based on another power purchase agreement with Voltalia SA. By drawing energy from both the Khangela Emoyeni wind farm and the Bolobedu Solar plant, RBM is expected to satisfy around 42% of its energy requirements from renewable sources.

This dual sourcing aligns with global efforts to transition towards cleaner energy and reflects the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship while supporting South Africa’s broader objectives for increasing renewable energy capacity.

The agreements solidify RBM’s position as a leader in the mining industry’s transition towards sustainability. These steps by RBM not only promise a greener footprint but also set a precedent for the integration of renewable energy within industrial operations in Africa and beyond. The initiative is a testament to the power of collaborative efforts in achieving significant strides in sustainability for businesses and the planet alike.


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