Rio Tinto, a mining group committed to the energy transition, has signed a power purchasing agreement for a new renewable energy plant to power the operations of its QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) ilmenite mine. The aim is to achieve the carbon neutral objective by 2023.
The project, carried out in partnership with CrossBoundary Energy (CBE), an independent power producer that will build solar and wind energy facilities, will significantly contribute towards Rio Tinto’s operations located in Fort Dauphin, Southern Madagascar – achieving its carbon neutral objective by 2023. An environmental exemplarity “«leading the way at Rio Tinto and in Madagascar […],” Sinead Kaufman Rio Tinto Minerals Chief Executive was quoted as saying in a statement of the Anglo-Australian multinational released on July 26.
“Emissions from electricity use in mining is estimated to account for around 1% of all greenhouse gases globally”
In fact, the vast Island, which has only limited access to electricity (15% of its population, according to World Bank data), still depends mainly on thermal power (60%) for its energy production. As for emissions from electricity use in mining, “they [would] account for around 1% of all greenhouse gases globally,” said CrossBoundary Energy Co-founder and Managing Partner Matt Tilleard. Hence the Malagasy government’s interest in the project, as the country’s authorities are «committed to the energy transition and to setting up Madagascar to be energy independent,” said the Secretary General, Ministry of Energy and Hydrocarbons Andriatongarivo Tojonirina Andrisoa.
The commodities giant said, for its part, the energy agreement project “[would bet] part of a broader initiative to reduce the ilmenite mine’s environmental footprint which includes programs that focus on emissions reduction, waste and water management, carbon sequestration, ecological restoration and reforestation.”
« Replacing the majority of the power currently supplied by QMM to the town of Fort Dauphin and its urban community with renewables»
The renewable energy plant, to be built, owned and operated by CBE over a 20-year period, will consist of an 8 MW solar facility and a 12 MW wind energy facility to power mining and processing operations. Rio Tinto has also indicated that There will also be a lithium-ion battery energy storage system of up to 8.25 MW as reserve capacity to ensure a stable and reliable network during peak generation times. This will « replace the majority of the power currently supplied by QMM to the town of Fort Dauphin and the community of around 80,000 people with renewables,” said the mining giant’s management, which also confirmed that the construction of the power plant is expected to begin this year with the solar and wind plants scheduled to start operations at the beginning and end of 2022, respectively.