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(Bloomberg) -- Gold Fields Ltd. said regulators approved its plan to build a 40 megawatt solar power plant at its remaining mine in South Africa.
The solar plant will satisfy about 20% of the South Deep mine's electricity needs and help curb operational losses from frequent power outages, the Johannesburg-based producer said in a statement. The company will update its cost estimates and then start work on the project "as soon as possible." Securing reliable power supplies is pivotal to Gold Fields continuing a successful turnaround at South Deep, which sits on the second-biggest known body of gold-bearing ore.
"The solar power plant will increase the reliability and afford-ability of power supply to South Deep, ultimately enhancing the long-term sustainability of the mine," Nick Holland, the Chief Executive officer for Gold Fields said in the statement.
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State-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.'s intermittent power cuts are adding to woes for particularly deep level South African gold and platinum-group mines, which are heavy consumers of electricity. While Gold Fields has shifted its focus to more lucrative gold deposits in Ghana, Australia and South America, the company is still trying to restore fortunes at the South Deep mine, with an orebody that could be exploited for nearly five decades.
Using more renewable energy will partly replace coal-fired electricity from Eskom and help improve Gold Fields' green credentials after it installed solar and wind power plants at its Agnew and Granny Smith mines in Australia.
Once the South Deep project starts, renewables will account for about 11% of Gold Fields' group total electricity use, up from 3% in 2020, it said.