Orion Minerals. File Image: IOL
Orion Minerals. File Image: IOL

Orion Minerals’ Prieska mine goes green

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Nov 19, 2021

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ORION Minerals yesterday told investors its Prieska mine in the Northern Cape could potentially be entirely powered by renewable energy and green hydrogen sources .

Orion, the JSE- and Australian- listed junior copper producer, said it was in talks with the Central Energy Corporation (Cenec) to incorporate the Prieska mine into Cenec Power Reserve Project, a renewable energy hub planned for the Prieska District in the Northern Cape.

Orion said access to the Prieska Power Reserve Project could potentially assist in helping achieve carbon net zero at the Prieska asset with the mine potentially powered entirely by renewable energy and green hydrogen source.

Commenting on the renewable energy source, Orion’s managing director and chief executive, Errol Smart, said: “The establishment of an independently owned and developed, large-scale renewable energy production and storage facility right on our doorstep represents a hugely exciting opportunity to establish Prieska as one of the lowest carbon emission sources of copper and zinc supply globally, with the potential to ultimately achieve carbon neutrality for the project.”

Orion said in addition to reducing its carbon footprint, the collaboration with Cenec would also have the potential to significantly reduce mine operating costs, paving the way for downstream processing at the Prieska mine using reliable, low-cost, clean renewable energy.

The Cenec Prieska Power Reserve is set to become one of South Africa’s largest renewable energy centres, and according to its website, it was conceptualised with the aim of achieving energy independence and “avoid constraints and limitations of the national energy grid”.

Orion said the collaboration with Cenec built on an earlier collaboration agreement signed with Juwi Renewable Energies to investigate the feasibility of generating and supplying 35MW of electricity for the Prieska Project from a bespoke hybrid power system using integrated wind and solar technologies.

“Orion, Juwi and Cenec are now in discussions regarding the potential inclusion of this bespoke power production plant at the Prieska Project into the Prieska Power Reserve, for an off-grid power supply solution. These discussions come at a time when recent changes in South African law governing the licensing and operation of embedded electricity generation facilities have made it more conducive to use self-generation electricity supply solutions,” said the group.

Smart said following South Africa’s signing of the Just Energy Transition Partnership agreement at the COP26 Conference earlier this month, South Africa was on its way to making a rapid transition away from the reliance on fossil fuels, and Orion intends to play a leading role in supporting this transition.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for us to play a pivotal role in the global energy transformation by delivering one of the largest new projects capable of meeting soaring demand for critical metals, such as copper and doing so in a way that goes above and beyond our corporate and environmental social and governance objectives, dramatically reducing our carbon footprint,“ he said.

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