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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Update on Vametco Mini-Grid construction project in South Africa

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Bushveld Minerals ,a low-cost, vertically integrated primary vanadium producer says it is  constructing a solar power and energy storage project at the Vametco mine site in South Africa.

And according to CEO Fortune Mojapelo the progress on the project is impressive.

“The project demonstrates the commercial viability of solar plus VRFB storage solutions for commercial and industrial scale applications,” he said.

” This project will open up significant opportunities for further VRFB deployments,” added Mr Mojpelo.

The hybrid mini-grid project being developed at the Vametco vanadium mine comprising of 3.5 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) generation and 4 MWh of vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) energy storage.

The solar project, Mojapelo said, is part of Bushveld’s strategy to demonstrate both the superior technical merits of long duration VRFB systems when paired with renewable energy, while providing a commercial return to the Company’s shareholders.

It will also use locally mined and beneficiated vanadium, showing how VRFB energy solutions can create more local value to South Africa than any other storage technology .

 The Vametco  hybrid mini-grid project  will supply just under 10 per cent of Vametco’s electrical energy consumption at any one time and will demonstrate the technical and commercial capability of hybrid mini-grids using solar PV and VRFB technology. Technically, the system will be able to operate independently or jointly, either as standalone systems or as a fully functional mini-grid installation.

 In addition, the hybrid mini-grid project, will contribute towards reducing the carbon footprint of Bushveld’s mining and processing operations as it will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 5,700 metric tonnes of CO2 emissions per year (and nearly 114,000 tonnes of CO2 over the 20 year-life of the project). This will be a positive contribution towards South Africa’s low emission  strategy.

In terms of the supply chain, Vametco, the Company’s mining and processing operation will supply approximately 25 tons of vanadium in the form of oxide for the VRFB. Enerox GmbH, the VRFB developer and manufacturer owned by an investment consortium which includes Bushveld, will supply the VRFB and ensure the conversion of the oxide into electrolyte, and Abengoa will supply the solar PV unit, install and integrate the system at the Vametco mine and processing plant .

Abengoa will also provide maintenance for the facility post-commissioning.

 Commercially, the project is structured as a separately funded independent power producer that will sell the electrical energy to the mine, reducing Vametco’s reliance on Eskom. As a result, the Vametco hybrid mini-grid project   installation will be one of the first solar generation project with long-duration storage to be financed, off-balance sheet in Africa.

Securing the environmental approval, PPA and the EPC are crucial project development steps leading into an application for a generation license. Recent regulatory changes in South Africa have permitted the National Energy Regulator of South Africa to issue such generation licenses without ministerial dispensation.

Financial close of both debt and equity to fully fund the project is the other key outstanding step, which will occur after receipt of the license. Construction of the hybrid mini-grid project   will begin after financial close. The Company is confident in completing these last two milestones and thus has moved forward with the procurements of the VRFB.  

Vametco is an integrated mining and processing plant located eight km northeast of Brits in the North West Province of South Africa. The operation owns the new order mining right for vanadium and other associated minerals over Portion 1 of the farm Uitvalgrond 431 JQ and Portion 1 of the farm Krokodilkraal 426 JQ in Brits.

Vametco operates an open pit mine supplying ore to a vanadium processing plant located on the same properties. It has a total of 516 employees and contractors.

Vametco’s open pit mine is approximately 3.5 km long, extending in a west-east direction. The ore body is well-defined, continuous and dips in a north-east direction at approximately 19 to 20 degrees. The mine is based on a JORC-compliant resource of 185.5 Mt, including 47.4 Mt reserves, with in-magnetite vanadium grades averaging 2.0 % V2O5, with a life of mine of more than 30 years.

“It will boost energy security for the mining operation and also demonstrate the utility of vanadium-based energy storage solutions for industrial settings,” Mojapelo told investors.

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