Ivanhoe Mines has secured options to use electricity generated from renewable, green, solar power together with liquefied natural gas (LNG) to power its tier-one Platreef palladium, rhodium, nickel, platinum, copper and gold project in South Africa.

Construction of Ivanhoe’s first solar power plant at the Platreef mine is set to begin next month. The initial 5-megawatt (MW) plant is expected to begin supplying clean, solar-generated electricity to the mine in early 2023.

“We have committed to our stakeholders that we will explore every avenue available to minimize the environmental impact of producing metals that are critical to the electrification of the global economy,” Founder, Executive Co-chairman Robert Friedland said. “Powering our massive Platreef mine with reliable electricity generated by ‘green power’ options, such as solar and natural gas, offers a 24-hour-a-day alternative to the coal-fired national electrical grid and dramatically reduces Platreef’s carbon emissions. A power plant running on natural gas generates approximately 50% fewer carbon dioxide emissions than one burning coal.”

Having a reliable source of clean, renewable electricity from a solar-power plant for Plantreef is an important step toward net-zero carbon emissions, Friedland added.

In 2021, South Africa’s government officially raised the licensing threshold for embedded generation projects from 1 MW to 100 MW, clearing the way for miners to start generating their own electricity.

Design and engineering of the initial 5-MW solar plant at the Platreef mine is complete and construction is set to commence next month, with commissioning expected in early 2023. The solar-generated power from this initial plant will be used for mine development and construction activities, as well as for charging Platreef’s battery-powered underground mining fleet, further reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Initial production at the Platreef mine is expected from the first phase of operations in the third quarter of 2024. Ivanhoe expects the Platreef mine to require approximately 30 MW of installed electrical power for its Phase 1 operations, and approximately 100 MW for its Phase 2 operations at full production.

Ivanhoe Mines indirectly owns 64% of the Platreef Project through its subsidiary, Ivanplats, and is directing all mine development work. The South African beneficiaries of the approved broad-based, black economic empowerment structure have a 26% stake in the Platreef Project. The remaining 10% is owned by a Japanese consortium of ITOCHU Corp., Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp., ITC Platinum Development Ltd., an ITOCHU affiliate, and Japan Gas Corp.

Strategic investment in Renergen Ltd. gives Ivanhoe the exclusive right to negotiate an electricity offtake agreement

In addition to moving forward on constructing its first solar-power facility at the Platreef mine, Ivanplats has acquired the exclusive right to negotiate an offtake agreement with South Africa-based Renergen Ltd. for electricity generated from Renergen’s gas and solar hybrid-power facility to be constructed at the Virginia Gas Project located in South Africa’s Witwatersrand Basin, approximately 600 kilometers (km) southwest of the Platreef mine.

Ivanhoe believes the electricity generated from Renergen’s gas and solar hybrid-power facility could be combined with Ivanhoe’s solar power facilities to provide Platreef with an uninterruptible power supply to meet the mine’s base-load requirements.

Renergen is an emerging producer of helium, energy and liquefied natural gas (LNG) with near-term production and sales of compressed natural gas (CNG) and helium from its Virginia Gas project that comprises exploration and production rights of 1,870 square kilometers of gas fields across Welkom, Virginia and Theunissen, in the Free State, South Africa.

Ivanhoe has made an initial equity investment in Renergen of approximately US$13 million, which gives Ivanhoe an approximate 4.35% interest in Renergen’s issued and outstanding shares. Ivanhoe also has the right to nominate one director to Renergen’s board of directors, and is entitled to customary anti-dilution rights.