Rio Tinto Signs PPA for Renewable Energy Plant to Power Mine in Madagascar

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Anglo-Australian mining group, Rio Tinto, has signed a power purchasing agreement (PPA) with CrossBoundary Energy to power the operations of its QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) ilmenite mine in Fort Dauphin, southern Madagascar, with renewable energy.

Under the 20-year PPA, CrossBoundary Energy will build, own, and operate a renewable energy plant that will consist of an 8 MW solar park and a 12 MW wind farm connected to a lithium-ion battery energy storage system of up to 8.25 MW to power mining and processing operations.

The solar plant, which is expected to commence construction this year and become operational at the beginning of 2022, will comprise over 18,000 solar photovoltaic panels. The wind power plant, with construction expected to begin early next year, will become operational by the end of 2022, and will be powered by up to nine wind turbines.

The project is expected to significantly contribute to Rio Tinto’s objectives of achieving carbon neutrality by 2023 and forms part of a broader initiative that focuses on emissions reduction, waste and water management, carbon sequestration, ecological restoration, and reforestation.

The wind and solar plants will supply 100% of QMM’s electricity demand during times of peak generation and up to 60% of the mine’s annual energy needs.

“This project is a strong example of our commitment with the Government of Madagascar to the sustainable development of the region,” said QMM President Ny Fanja Rakotamalala, adding that, “It is a major step forward on our journey towards a truly sustainable mine, that protects and promotes the uniqueness of Madagascar’s environment and benefits the community with reliable and clean electricity.”

Andriatongarivo Tojonirina Andrisoa, Secretary General for Madagascar’s Ministry of Energy and Hydrocarbons, reiterated the government’s commitment to the country’s clean energy transition as stated in the President’s Initiative pour l’Emergence de Madagascar, saying, “QMM’s renewable energy project … is fully aligned with that vision,” and that, “It makes Madagascar a global reference point for the use of renewable energy to supply clean, reliable power in the mining sector and other industries, and to the community.”

In addition to powering the mine, Rio Tinto stated that the hybrid plant’s capacity will allow QMM to replace most of the power it supplies to Fort Dauphin, a community of around 80,000 people, with energy from renewable sources.

The QMM mine is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (80%) and the Government of Madagascar (20%) and produces ilmenite as a source of sodium dioxide, which is used predominantly as a white pigment in paints and paper.

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Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen

Matthew Goosen is a Video Editor and Content Writer at Energy Capital & Power. He holds an Honours Degree in Film and Media Studies at the University of Cape Town and is currently undergoing his Masters Degree. Born in Pretoria and raised internationally, he has been living in Cape Town since 2013.

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