Anglo American has signed a memorandum of understanding with EDF Renewables to build a renewables grid in South Africa.

The grid will power 100% of Anglo American's South African mining operations.

The companies will build a network of on-site and off-site solar and wind farms. In the next decade, the partnership plans to build 3 GW to 5 GW of renewable electricity and storage.

Anglo American said several partners will provide equity financing for the Regional Renewable Energy Ecosystem, in addition to debt financing.

The grid will also assist in the development of new economic sectors in South Africa, as well as local production and supply chains.

Moving towards renewable energy for South African operations will address Anglo American's Scope 2 emissions footprint, chief executive Mark Cutifani said. Electric power is a significant source of the company's Scope 2 emissions.

It complements the company's Future Smart Mining programme, which includes a hydrogen haul truck system and the development of South Africa's Hydrogen Valley. Anglo American aims to be carbon-neutral by 2040.

Anglo American already powers all its South American operations with renewable energy. By 2023, the company expects its global grid supply to be 56% renewable energy.

The move towards renewable energy will also assist South Africa with its Just Energy Transition, Nolitha Fakude, who chairs Anglo American's management board in South Africa, said.

"We intend to incorporate a Black Economic Empowerment [BEE] partner into our regional renewable energy ecosystem and are exploring a range of community partnership models that will allow our host communities to share in the ecosystem's success," Fakude said.

Moving towards its own renewable power network will also protect Anglo American from ongoing power failures in South Africa, an issue that has plagued the country in recent years. In 2021, the country reported a record of 1,150 hours of power outages, Bloomberg reported.

This article first appeared in sister publication Mining Magazine on 21 March 2022. Credit: Jax Jacobsen.