Image source: Wikimedia

WINNER: B2Gold Corp.

The world’s newest large-scale gold producer, B2Gold Corp is showing the successful inroads African mining companies can make in improving their environmental footprints by adopting renewable energy power supply technologies.

In 2018 the company opened a new solar plant at its Otjikoto gold mine in Namibia.

The opening of the new solar plant is in-keeping with B2Gold’s ongoing commitment to responsible mining and promoting green energy solutions at its five operating gold mines worldwide.

This article first appeared in Mining Elites in Africa 2019

The Otjikoto solar plant is one of the first fully-autonomous hybrid plants in the world and will allow the company to significantly reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from the site’s current 24 MW heavy fuel oil (HFO) power plant.

Changing the power plant to an HFO solar hybrid plant should reduce Otjikoto’s HFO consumption by approximately 2.3 million litres and reduce associated power generation fuel costs by approximately 10% in 2018.

The plant will deliver positive economic, environmental and social impacts that are likely to outlive the life of mine.

This solar plant will be one of the largest installations of its kind in Namibia.

It will serve as a sustainable power solution as B2Gold works to improve economic returns, reduce impacts on the environment and could potentially be a funding source for community development.

The development of the Otjikoto solar facility also reflects B2Gold’s commitment to environmental stewardship and the company’s ongoing goal of reducing its dependence on fossil fuels in favour of cleaner, less expensive power sources.

Driven by this goal, B2Gold embarked upon a detailed financial feasibility study early in 2016 to determine the financial viability of adding a 7 MW solar plant to Otjikoto’s energy portfolio.

Based on the results of this study, the project was approved in October 2016 with an estimated project cost of $8.5 million.

Otjikoto’s solar plant commenced full commissioning in early April 2018, on schedule and on budget.

B2Gold is considering whether a further innovative use of the solar plant could be as an income-generating asset after the mine closes.

Funds generated by this asset could be used to support ongoing Corporate Social Responsibility activities in the region long after the mine has shut down.

The Otjikoto solar plant project was championed by Mark Dawe, B2Gold’s Namibia Country manager, and his management team.

Judges’ comments:

Jim Pooley: “The construction of a significant solar power plant to reduce carbon emissions and also, potentially, provide power to the community is commendable.”

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