Rio Tinto has signed a power purchase agreement for a new renewable energy plant in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar, to support the operations of its QMM ilmenite mine. Their operations in Madagascar will achieve their carbon neutral goal by 2023 thanks to this initiative, which uses solar and wind energy. The project is part of a larger effort to reduce the ilmenite mine’s environmental impact.

Over a 20-year period, independent power producer CrossBoundary Energy (CBE) will own and operate the renewable energy plant, which will include an 8 MW solar facility and a 12 MW wind energy facility to power mining and processing operations. A lithium-ion battery energy storage system with a reserve capacity of up to 8.25 MW will be installed to ensure a stable network.

The plant, which will be located in Port Ehoala Park, will include around 18,000 solar panels and up to nine wind turbines. Construction is expected to begin this year, with the solar facility set to open in the first quarter of 2022. Construction on the wind power plant is expected to begin in early 2022 and be completed by the end of the year.

QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM) is an 80:20 joint venture between Rio Tinto and the Madagascar government. QMM also produces zirsill used in manufacturing digital screens and monazite, a rare earth element used in renewable energy technologies such as high-powered permanent magnets used in wind turbines and electric vehicles. The deep-water Port d’Ehoala is part of QMM, and the raw material is sent to Rio Tinto Fer et Titane in Canada, where it is processed into titanium dioxide.