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Anglo American is taking its SA operations completely off grid

Teams up with EDF Renewables to achieve this by 2030.
The group plans to be carbon-neutral by 2040. Image: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Anglo American is taking its South African operations – all 19 of them – completely off grid.

Last week it announced that an agreement had been reached with global renewables company EDF Renewables to develop a regional renewable energy ecosystem (RREE) that will wean Anglo’s South African operations 100% off the grid by 2030. The group plans to be carbon-neutral by 2040.

Not only will this ease capacity pressures on the Eskom grid, it will also help decarbonise the electricity network in SA.

Anglo American has already secured 100% renewable electricity supply for all its operations in South America, and the group expects to source 56% of its global electricity needs from renewables by 2023.

At its recent 2021 annual results presentation, Anglo indicated that it intends to have three solar power plants in operation in SA by 2023, with hydrogen trucks being piloted this year. De Beers also plans to be carbon-neutral across all its operations by 2030.

Emissions goal

The partnership with EDF Renewables is aimed at curtailing the largest single source of Anglo’s Scope 2 emissions, being its current grid supply in South Africa. Scope 2 emissions are indirect greenhouse gas emissions associated with the purchase of electricity from Eskom.

The RREE aims to support South Africa’s decarbonisation ambitions and the country’s Just Energy Transition, creating a sustainable and inclusive future, says Anglo.

The group plans to spend between $200 million and $500 million a year across all its operations to more precisely target metals and minerals using less water and energy and reducing waste.

It is currently developing the world’s largest hydrogen-powered mining truck to decarbonise its transport fleet. The concept has already been tested and a 40-truck roll-out is planned for 2024, powered by a local solar plant.

Anglo has outlined a host of technologies that it says will bring it closer to its goal of carbon neutrality, including pumped hydro storage and COsequestration.

Source: Anglo American 2021 results presentation

The RREE will draw on South Africa’s natural renewable energy potential to develop a network of on-site and off-site solar and wind farms, says Anglo. This will enable it to generate and deliver renewable energy to its SA operations 24/7.

Anglo says it anticipates the renewable infrastructure investment will come from a combination of equity and debt financing.

Read: These are the days (if you’re a miner)

The EDF Renewables partnership is expected to bring benefits to SA and the region, including:

  • 3-5GW of renewable electricity (solar and wind) and storage over the next decade;
  • Supporting decarbonisation across Southern Africa; and
  • Stimulating the development of new economic sectors, local production and supply chains.

Nolitha Fakude, chair of Anglo American’s management board in SA, says the renewable energy drive is also an opportunity to support black economic empowerment and local community partnerships.

Read: SA miners plan R60bn spend on power projects

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completely off grid! plus taking the megatrucks onto presumably green hydrogen using solar! 5GW is very very big, probably similar to solar installed IPP to date.

This is an immense undertaking and best of all it could have nothing to do with being green : the project will more than pay for itself. Private energy will overtake central added capacity for the next many years. Those that can, make a plan just like mines all over Africa have had to do since forever.

Congratulations and best of luck now with tackling the authorities…

I’d assume that in making this plan public & committing to its own power generation Anglo has dealt with the bureaucratic hurdles.Probably fits into Ramaphosa’s 100MW limit anyway.

To get to 5GW they’ll probably need more than 100MW in places. Unless most of this is just wheeling power from private wind and solar? ie not actually off grid but all annual energy from renewables…

But, when you go truly off-grid then the NRS-097 rules don’t apply. Will probably still need to deal with the EIA triggers. I wonder if Eskom Distribution can also levy fees for NOT using reticulation they provided (like councils can)?

In an ideal world they’d put up their systems, keep a (smaller) grid capacity connection. It might be needed in a problem, but that grid connection can also inject to the grid when they have surpluses. Any solar system will have surpluses at times to try and deal with the worst solar week.

with Anglo’s interests it makes good sense for them to prove massive fuel cells (PGM metals) and flow batteries (vanadium redox). PGM demand in cars will diminish so PGM in fuel cells needs to take up demand.

Hopefully we get more technical plans

End of comments.

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