Coal miners Exxaro and Seriti Resources are joining forces with State-owned power utility Eskom to jointly develop renewable energy projects.
The landmark memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the parties on October 25 spells out the companies’ development plan to lower their carbon footprints.
Additionally, the parties aim to create jobs and re-skilling opportunities for communities living around and working at their respective operations.
Exxaro and Seriti are the largest coal suppliers to Eskom, contributing about 80% of Eskom’s coal supply a year. By implementing renewable energy solutions at their Eskom-tied operations and at related Eskom sites, Seriti and Exxaro aim to achieve both carbon reduction and cost savings in the generation and use of electricity at these mines.
“This is symbiotic with Eskom’s mandate to provide electricity in an efficient and sustainable manner, which includes decarbonising its supply chain,” the companies explain in a statement.
Phase 1 of the envisaged project pipeline will result in the construction of various solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities both on mine sites and at Eskom sites. These may be off-grid or wheeled solutions, or a combination of the two.
The partners aim to start with the projects as soon as possible, subject to regulatory approvals.
In particular, Seriti wishes to achieve a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of up to 350 000 t/y, which amounts to half of its emissions currently, through lowering the use of coal-fired electricity.
Exxaro aims to reduce its emissions by 130 000 t/y at the Matla coal mine, which represents a 70% greenhouse-gas emission saving when the mine is at full production.
“Eskom continues to explore means to lower the cost of coal supplied to its power stations, and this investment enables Eskom to take advantage of the low cost of PV power.
“This is one of the many initiatives Eskom has embarked on to achieve net-zero status by 2050,” Eskom CEO André de Ruyter states.
Exxaro CEO Mxolisi Mgojo says the MoU marks a significant development in South Africa’s energy transition to a low-carbon economy for three of South Africa’s largest players in the mining and energy sectors.
“The investment in decarbonising our mining operations is a systematic and responsible approach to the energy transition without introducing risk to the country’s electricity generation.
“The collaboration amongst Exxaro, Seriti and Eskom is exemplary of the possibilities achievable through cooperative and constructive relations between business and government in securing livelihoods and a future for South Africa,” he notes.
Seriti CEO Mike Teke adds that his company recognises the need to decarbonise; however, he emphasises the need for the transition to be done responsibly so as to not destroy South Africa’s industrial base or the lives of people that rely on these companies for jobs, enterprise and support.
In achieving its own just transition, Seriti has formed a new subsidiary called Seriti Green.