The 15 MW Essakane solar plant, in northern Burkina Faso, has been officially opened.
The photovoltaic (PV) plant will supply electricity to Iamgold's Essakane gold mine.
Owing to its isolated location, the mine is currently off-grid and relies solely on heavy fuel oil (HFO).
Iamgold worked with project sponsor, global renewable energy independent power producer (IPP) Total Eren to add solar capacity to the mine's existing power system.
Made up of close to 130 000 PV panels, the solar plant will be added to the existing 57 MW HFO power plant, thereby creating the hybrid PV-HFO plant and solar facility in Africa.
The project will help decrease the mine's fuel consumption by about six-million litres a year and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 18 500 t.
"The transition to generating more of our energy from renewable sources has been central to Iamgold's new energy strategy for several years now. The inauguration of the hybrid solar/thermal power plant is a new milestone in innovation and excellence, and one of which we are particularly proud," said Iamgold president and CEO Stephen Letwin in a statement released on Monday.
Meanwhile, Total Eren executive VP and global head of business development Fabienne Demol noted that the ceremony set a long-lasting footprint for Total Eren in Burkina Faso and confirms the company's ability to collaborate, together with its partner Africa Energy Management Platform (AEMP), with mining companies to address their energy needs.
"Iamgold has successfully taken up the challenge of bringing renewable power to mines and we demonstrated that, with the help of strong technical and financial partners, with enough flexibility and creativity to come up with innovative business and structuring models and with the continuous support of the national decision-makers and local communities, we can execute reliable and effective solutions for competitive power supply, even in the most remote areas," Demol added.
The Essakane solar plant will employ 40 permanent staff for the next 15 years.