Rio Tinto QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) and Crossboundary Energy have laid the foundation stone for an 8MW solar and 12MW wind plant that will supply the QMM ilmenite mine operations in Fort Dauphin in southern Madagascar.
Crossboundary Energy is building the project, with QMM having signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with the company.
The solar component will be operational in 2022 and wind farm in 2023.
The project also includes an 8.25MW lithium-ion battery energy storage system.
Around 18,000 solar panels and four wind turbines will enable QMM to meet all of its electricity needs during peak periods and up to 60% of its annual electricity consumption.
The project will also reduce QMM's annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 26,000 tonnes and reduce its heavy fuel oil purchases by up to 8500 tonnes a year.
QMM will also replace the majority of the electricity it currently supplies to the town of Fort-Dauphin and its 80,000 community members with clean energy.
QMM president Ny Fanja Rakotomalala said: “This project is a key component of our ‘sustainable mine’ initiative, which aims to leave a lasting legacy for present and future generations, built independently of our mining operations.
“We want to leave this legacy through permanent dialogue, the full integration of activities within the development plan of the region, responsible social and environmental governance, the reduction of our environmental footprint and therefore of our carbon footprint, and through the creation of economic and social opportunities increasingly independent of QMM.
“This project is a strategic test, not only in Madagascar but also in the mining industry as a whole, as we have to innovate and rethink our operations in order to combat climate change and leave a sustainable legacy.”
CBE managing partner Matt Tilleard said: “By establishing a commercial power plant that blends solar PV, battery energy storage, and wind power, the QMM project greatly improves the island of Madagascar standing as a regional renewable energy leader.
“CBE is pleased to take up this technical challenge. We believe large-scale, complex commercial energy projects can be realized here in Madagascar thanks to ample supply of renewable resources, holistic government support, and knowledgeable local implementing partners.”
Madagascar Minister of Energy and Hydrocarbons Andry Ramaroson said: “This project is important in Madagascar's development strategy, particularly within the Plan Emergence Sud, which makes access to electricity for the people of the Anosy region a priority.
“We are pleased to see this project start on schedule, thanks to the unwavering commitment of all project sponsors and regulators.
“We are creating a public-private partnership model that will position Madagascar as a destination for technological innovation in the field of renewable energy and attract new expertise.”