The largest coal suppliers to Eskom, Exxaro Resources and Seriti Resources, have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to pursue renewable energy projects aimed at reducing the carbon footprint at each of their operations.
According to the parties’ joint statement, Seriti aims to reduce its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 350 000 tonnes per annum, which is half of its current emissions of 700 000 tonnes. Exxaro envisages cutting its emissions by up to 130 000 tonnes per annum at its Matla coal mine, which it says represents a saving of 70% of Matla’s greenhouse gas emissions at full production.
“Eskom continues to explore means to lower the cost of coal supplied to its power stations, and this investment allows it to take advantage of the low cost of photovoltaic power,” Eskom CEO André de Ruyter said.
“This is one of the many initiatives Eskom has embarked on to achieve a net zero status by 2050.”
The first phase of the project pipeline will see the construction of several solar photovoltaic facilities, both on-mine and at Eskom sites. They add that these may include behind-the-meter solutions (off-grid), wheeled solutions, or a combination of the two.
“The companies have committed to begin the projects as soon as possible, subject to regulatory approvals. Further projects envisaged may include energy storage and possibly wind energy facilities,” the parties commented.
In addition, they aim to create employment and develop re-skilling opportunities for communities living and working at and around their operations, via their carbon reduction project.
Seriti and Exxaro say that by implementing renewable energy solutions at their Eskom-tied operations and at related Eskom sites, they seek to achieve not only carbon reduction but also 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,” they said.
Mxolisi Mgojo, CEO of Exxaro, said: “This is a significant landmark 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 co-operative and constructive relations between business and government in securing livelihoods and a future for South Africa.”
According to Mike Teke, CEO of Seriti, the companies realise that climate change and the need to decarbonise pose significant challenges to South Africa’s economy and therefore will tread carefully with the projects.
“…We are very conscious that this needs to be done in such a way that does not destroy our industrial base, or the lives of South Africans that rely on our companies for jobs, enterprise and support. This is the very basis of a just transition.”
“As a company we are fully committed to decarbonisation and a just transition, and in working with our partners – in business, government, labour and communities – in achieving this,” he added.
Palesa Mofokeng is a Moneyweb intern.