Implats reports big response to request for information on wheeled renewables

2nd March 2023 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Implats reports big response to request for information on wheeled renewables

Dr Tsakani Mthombeni

JOHANNESBURG ( – Platinum group metals mining and marketing company Impala Platinum (Implats) has had a major response to its request for information (RFI) for electricity through wheeling from renewable energy sources to its South African operations.

“I must say the response was overwhelming, given the other players that we are competing with, including the State-run REIPP renewable independent power producer programme,” Implats executive: sustainable development Dr Tsakani Mthombeni, who is driving the energy process, said in response to Mining Weekly during a media round table. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

“We received in total about 49 projects with a capacity of 7.8 GW, of which 2.4 GW is wind power and 5.4 MW of solar. That is the level of reception that the market gave us and that is what we’ll be taking to the next stages in terms of request for proposals.

“The projects are located in almost all provinces, save for KwaZulu-Natal, which is very good for us in terms of geographic diversity of where we can pick the projects,” Mthombeni said of the RFI, which closed in January.

“It’s clear that there’s a lot of potential capacity out there. It’s just a matter of going through that, locking it in and getting some of that productive,” added Implats group executive corporate affairs and strategy Johan Theron.

The biggest challenge is how Implats provides alternative energy to the Impala Rustenburg operation, its biggest electricity consumer.

Implats COO Gerhard Potgieter outlined that energy projects already approved within the group included a 185 MW solar power project, which would be operational by the end of this year, as well as the well advanced 33 MW for the Marula operations.

“But for Impala Rustenburg, we need to have partners because we just don’t have the surface area for solar,” said Potgieter.

An option would be to partner with Royal Bafokeng, which does have property for solar.

“But we’ve identified early on that our biggest advantage would be to wheel in from third party providers and the RFI has received very positive returns from potential people to provide wheeled power,” added Potgieter.

Implats intends for the wheeled electricity to be delivered to energy delivery points at its nominated sites in South Africa.

The JSE-listed company is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 with a short-term target of 30% reduction of its carbon emissions by 2030.

“The switch to renewable electricity will play an important role in achieving these goals and in eliminating worsening electricity supply disruptions," Implats CEO Nico Muller stated during a pre-recorded early morning presentation.

“All our Southern African operations are progressing low-carbon alternative and renewable power projects,” Muller added.

The current carbon generation of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange-listed company is about 3.3-million tons of carbon a year, which it aims to reduce to 2.2-million tons, a saving of 1.1-million tons.

In its RFI, Implats requested potential independent power producer (IPP) bidders – with the relevant competencies, capacity and experience – to register with it.

At its Rustenburg operations, Implats has aspirations to introduce 290 MW of renewable energy, 170 MW of it being through a solar photovoltaic plant and 120 MW the subject of a wheeling arrangement.

The 290 MW will be made up of several individual projects, typically aimed at supporting mine shafts that have lives sufficient to support a renewable energy project.

Alternatively, they could be introduced at shafts close to smelters, so that power supply can be rerouted to smelters with the least effort in the event of shaft closure.

The company also has plans to introduce 30 MW of solar power at its Marula mine.

In Springs, Implats’ refinery aims to receive 15 MW of renewable energy as part of a wheeling arrangement as insufficient property exists there to erect a solar or wind project.

Through the RFI, Implats required bidders to include the anticipated IPP project structure diagram showing ownership of the project company and key experience related to executing similar projects.

Other critical information required by Implats involved developmental readiness of bidders' proposed IPP facilities, taking in site availability, proposed renewable energy technology and grid connection confirmation and the status of different site studies, licensing and permits.