South Africa isn’t exactly a pillar for sustainability. The country currently stands as the 14th largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions globally, and its CO2 levels are largely attributable to its heavy dependence on coal. But in spite of its lacklustre efforts and debatable sustainability outlook, coal and minerals mining company Exxaro is keen to kickstart South Africa’s environmental movement, and it’s starting with the decarbonisation of its own coal mines.
The company’s energy branch, Cennergi, is being tasked with the challenge of reducing the carbon emissions resulting from Exxaro’s coal mine operations. Currently, the company is in conversation with other mining companies over the best approach for bringing green energy into pre-existing and future South African projects, trying to find the best solution for the decarbonisation of the industry.
Decarbonising the company’s coal mines and beyond
“We’ve been playing in this decarbonising space as a business from as early as 2009 because the net benefit of decarbonisation that comes about by introducing renewables is the part that really sets us into the next phase of our own decarbonisation strategy,” says Mxolisi Mgojo, CEO at Exxaro, in an interview with Mining Weekly.
Cennergi was founded in 2012, going on to develop two wind farms in the Eastern Cape before being fully acquired by Exxaro in 2019. As of today, the energy branch is being tasked to come up with renewable solutions for Exxaro’s ongoing coal projects in Grootegeluk, Belfast, and Malta, with Cennergi aiding the coal mines in securing a supply of electricity at an affordable price to begin reducing the company’s carbon emissions.
“That renewable energy solution, on its own, is going to reduce Grootegeluk’s carbon emissions by 35% - just one project,” continues Mgojo with Mining Weekly. “That is the extent with which we are using our energy business to decarbonise our own business.”
Spurring sustainability within South Africa’s mining industry
In an attempt to spur on the sustainable transformation of the mining industry, particularly within South Africa, Exxaro is extending its decarbonisation solutions to its mining competitors who share a similar goal in targeting the reduction of CO2 to prevent negative environmental side effects.
“We’re talking to those types of mining companies because we understand mining, and we will then be utilising that as an opportunity to further support the decarbonisation of the mining industry, as well as the decarbonisation of our country through the reduction of carbon emissions.”