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North West Business 2023-24

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  • Pgms
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  • Rustenburg
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  • Platinum
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  • Mining
  • Mmabatho
The 2023/24 edition of North West Business marks the 12th publication of this highly successful journal that, since its launch in 2009, has established itself as the premier business and investment guide for the North West Province. Renewable energy is a huge global trend, and the impact this burgeoning sector is having on the North West can be seen in the development of several new solar farms which are under construction. The North West’s strong suit in platinum group metals (PGMs) already puts the province at the forefront of the drive towards a greener and renewable economy because of the applicability of so many of those minerals and metals for the cleaner energy movement. North West Business includes news and analysis of the most important sectors. Best known for its platinum mines, grain and livestock farming and tourism, the province is making a concerted effort to bolster its manufacturing capacity through a dedicated new strategy which includes trying to attract solar panel manufacturing to the province. To complement the extensive local, national and international distribution of the print edition, the full content can also be viewed online at Updated information on the North West is also available through our monthly e-newsletter, which you can subscribe to at, in addition to our complementary business-to-business titles that cover all nine provinces, our flagship South African Business title and the new addition to our list of publications, Journal of African Business, which was launched in 2020.

OVERVIEW Energy The sun

OVERVIEW Energy The sun will power Sun City. SECTOR INSIGHT Solar panels may be made at Stilfontein on the N12. Sun City Resort is taking advantage of its sunny location. Sun City is living up to its name with the installation of a R16- million roof-based solar system. The power produced will be the equivalent of what 329 average-sized South African households consume over a year. When the sun is shining, the panels will provide about 14% of the resort’s electrical demand. The investment is expected to pay for itself within five years and have a lifespan beyond 25 years. The plant will reduce Sun City’s annual CO2 equivalent emissions by an estimated 2 510 tons. Stilfontein, on the N12 highway between Potchefstroom and Klerksdorp, has been identified as the possible site of a solar panel manufacturing plant. A feasibility study is to be done and the North West Development Corporation will lobby Infrastructure South Africa (ISA) for the Stilfontein concept to be included in national plans with regard to solar panel manufacturing. In addition, the Provincial Government of the North West intends revising its Provincial Energy Strategy to take into account the rapidly changing global energy environment. A joint technical team of experts has been established with the North-West University to revise the document with special attention to be given to the issues of energy security and how to mitigate loadshedding. Tronox and Sola have signed Africa’s biggest corporate renewable energy power purchase agreement award to date, related to two solar plants near Lichtenburg in the Ditsobotla Local Municipality. This agreement takes advantage of recently promulgated changes to regulations, whereby energy wheeling is allowed. Wheeling means the power will be supplied through the national grid but it is generated and purchased in geographically distinct locations. The reduction in annual CO2 emissions related to these facilities is expected to be 595 tons. When De Wildt Solar near Brits started commercial operations in January 2021, it became, according to Engineering News, the “fourth utility-scale plant that has come on line in the North West in under five months”. The province had been lagging in terms of projects undertaken through the national private producers’ renewable energy programme, but now it’s making up for lost time. With 169 140 solar modules, the South African-owned plant delivers 123 186MWh/year and NORTH WEST BUSINESS 2023/24 20 PHOTO: Sun City

OVERVIEW will bring economic benefits to many residents and businesses of the Madibeng Local Municipality and beyond. A brickmaking co-operative was involved in the solar farm’s construction. Pilanesberg Platinum Mines introduced its Kell processing plant in 2021, a technology that reduces electricity usage and eliminates sulphur dioxide emissions in smelting. With platinum group metals (PGMs) attracting good prices partly because of the role they can play in the hoped-for lower-carbon economy, cleaner and cheaper methods of extraction and processing offer even sunnier projections for the miners of PGMs. Alternative sources Most of South Africa’s energy requirements are met by Eskom’s coalfired power stations but the drive to start producing renewable energy is growing, and researchers and companies in the North West are investigating several options. Big mining companies are among the biggest users of energy and many belong to the Energy Intensive Users Group of Southern Africa. The Bio-Energy research group, located within the Faculty of Engineering at the North-West University, is active in the field of second and third-generation bio-refinery research, covering both biochemical and thermochemical production. The group comprises chemists, biochemists, microbiologists and chemical engineers and falls under the university’s Centre of Excellence in Carbon-based Fuels which has two other components, researchers looking into the future of coal and another investigating how best to control emissions. Bioethanol, biodiesel and methane gas from waste and renewable resources are among the types of biofuels under discussion. Sunflower seeds and sweet sorghum are suitable for converting into biofuel and bioethanol. Silversands Energy is a North West company that produces ethanol fuel for an ethanol-powered bus made by Scania South Africa for the City of Johannesburg. South Africa’s nuclear research centre is located at Pelindaba near Hartbeespoort Dam and is run by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation. The NWU Nuclear Engineering Department is the only one of its kind in the country, and the National Department of Science and Technology has allocated a chair in Nuclear Engineering to the university. One of the key focus areas for the planned Platinum Valley Special Economic Zone (PVSEZ) is the promotion of renewable energy. The PVSEZ is in the Mogwase industrial area in the Bojanala Platinum District Municipality and has already attracted the interest of several investors. Sibanye-Stillwater, which started its life as a gold company in South Africa and swiftly became a global leader in mining PGMs, bought a share in a Finnish mining and chemicals company Keliber in early 2021 with the aim of producing battery-grade lithium hydroxide in that country. The South African firm has subsequently increased its stake to 79%. The partnership will invest in lithium mines, a concentrator plant and a lithium hydroxide plant. Sibanye-Stillwater is the world’s largest primary producer of platinum, second-largest primary producer of palladium, third-largest producer of gold and the world’s leading global recycler and processor of spent platinum group metals (PGM) catalytic converter materials. Two of the company’s three South African PGM assets are in the North West, Marikana and Rustenburg, and it is the majority shareholder in the Platinum Mile tailings retreatment facility near Rustenburg, which recovers PGMs from the tailings of the Rustenburg operations. ■ ONLINE RESOURCES Energy Intensive Users Group of Southern Africa: South African Independent Power Producers Association: South African Photovoltaic Industry Association: South African Renewable Energy Council: 21 NORTH WEST BUSINESS 2023/24

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