NERSA approves 40MW solar plant generation licence for mining operations in South Africa
The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), approved the issuing of a generation licence to GFI Joint Venture Holdings Proprietary and Gold Fields Operations (South Deep Joint Venture) to operate a 40MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant. The generation facility will be constructed in Westonaria, south-west of Johannesburg in the Gauteng Province.
NERSA received the application on 18 June 2020. The application could not be processed within the required timelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the application was subjected to public participation process with a virtual public hearing. The 40MW solar PV plant will be constructed on the same site as the South Deep Gold Mine and all power generated by the plant will be consumed by the mine.
South Deep Gold Mine submitted its first application for a generation licence of a 40MW solar plant in 2017. However, this application could not be processed because it was not compliant with the requirements of the Electricity Regulation Act, 2006. The application did not have Ministerial approval to deviate from the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), as was required by section 10(2)(g) of the Electricity Regulation Act, 2006.
South Deep Gold Mine also did not have environmental authorisation as required by the National Environmental Management Act, 1998. NERSA engaged with and guided South Deep Gold Mine on how to ensure that the application is compliant with the legal requirements to enable NERSA to process the application. In this regard, several consultation meetings were held between NERSA and South Deep Gold Mine.
On 1 February 2020, the Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy issued approval for deviation from the IRP for self-generation projects of any capacity. Following this approval, South Deep Joint Venture submitted a compliant application on 18 June 2020. The application was processed through NERSA's regulatory processes.