Staff Reporter - B2Gold Namibia on Tuesday officially opened its 7 MW solar farm, an investment of more than N$118 million.
The power plant will allow the company to significantly reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the site’s current 24 MW heavy fuel oil (HFO). With a consistent demand of 12.5 MW 24 hours per day, the plant consumed 21.7 million litres of HFO during 2017, costing approximately US$10.5 million, B2Gold said in a statement.
The feasibility studies indicate an expected savings of 20% of HFO consumption through the reduction of load to the power plant as well as savings on maintenance costs on the power plant’s HFO engines. The group expects the solar farm will reduce energy costs by 14% in 2018, B2Gold said.
“This solar plant will become an asset that can outlive the life of mine and will serve as a sustainable power solution as B2Gold works to reduce impacts on the receiving environment and communities surrounding its operations,” the company said.
“The decision to invest in this solar plant demonstrates B2Gold’s commitment to innovative and responsible mining. It complements the company’s commitment towards an effective corporate social responsibility,” mines and energy minister Tom Alweendo said at the opening ceremony.
“Right from the CEO down, we believe that if we cannot add value to country, to community, to the natural environment, then we should not be here,” Mark Dawe, managing director of B2Gold Namibia said.
NamPower is expecting 210 MW of installed green energy in 2019, Dawe said. “This is nearly 50% of Namibia’s energy demand during the day from renewables. Our 7MW solar plant will save 26 million litres of HFO fuel over the next 8 years. At 2.7kg CO2 per litre of HFO, this equals 70kt of CO2 not exhausted into the atmosphere. With our proposed grid link, we will be saving 183 million litres of fuel oil. At 2.7kg CO2 per litre, this equals half a million tonnes of CO2,” he said.
Dawe continued: “Our message to everyone in industry is that thanks to technology, green energy is not only good for the planet, it’s good for the bottom line and investors love green companies.”
Dr Leake Hangala, chairman of B2Gold Namibia, said B2Gold is ready to co-operate with NamPower and other players and see how they can leverage their resources to meet the desire of Namibia becoming self-sufficient in power generation. “This solar plant here is a good start towards such a co-operation,” he said.
As a novel initiative, B2Gold is considering the utilisation of the solar plant as an income-generating asset after the mine closes due to depletion of its reserves. Funds generated by this asset could be used to support ongoing corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities in the region long after the mine has shut down, the company said in its statement.
B2Gold Namibia (Pty) Ltd. is a 90% owned subsidiary of B2Gold Corp. The remaining 10% is owned by EVI Mining Company Limited, a Namibian, broad-based economic empowerment group.
B2Gold Namibia’s portfolio includes the Otjikoto Mine in north central Namibia a well as extensive base metal concessions in northern Namibia.
B2Gold Corp. is listed on the Overall Index of the Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX). It closed at N$33.02 per share on Tuesday.