Orion Minerals to use renewable energy in its copper-zinc project

Orion Minerals has announced that it has commenced discussions to collaborate with the Central Energy Corporation (CENEC) to include its flagship Prieska Copper-Zinc Project (Prieska Project) into CENEC’s Prieska Power Reserve, a mega-scale renewable energy hub currently being planned for the Prieska district in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa.

The Prieska Power Reserve is a large-scale initiative aimed at generating electrical energy from renewable sources and storing this energy as green hydrogen and ammonia on a long-term basis. The project intends to achieve energy independence and to avoid the constraints and limitations of the national electricity grid.

Access to the Prieska Power Reserve would significantly reduce carbon emissions from the Prieska Project, with the potential that the mine could be entirely powered by renewable energy and green hydrogen sources to potentially achieve net-zero carbon emissions. This would position Prieska as one of the greenest and lowest-carbon-emission copper and zinc producers anywhere in the world.

In addition, it would also have the potential to significantly reduce mine operating costs, with the recent results of the fifth round of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement (REIPPP) Program returning an average bid price of ZAR0.473/kWh for renewable energy – less than half the assumed base power cost of ZAR0.93/kWh used in the Prieska Project Bankable Feasibility Study published on 26 May 2020.

These reduced power costs also open the door to potentially incorporate future value-adding beneficiation and downstream processing at Prieska using reliable, low-cost, clean renewable energy.

The collaboration with CENEC builds 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 licencing and operation of embedded electricity generation facilities have made it more conducive to use self-generation electricity supply solutions.

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