The South Deep Khanyisa solar plant

In February 2021, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) approved Gold Fields’ application for the construction of a 40MW solar power plant at South Deep. In June 2021, the South African Government announced an increase in the embedded generation threshold to 100MW. Following the announcement, South Deep carried out a further optimisation study. The results indicate that upgrading the solar plant by an additional 10MW would unlock maximum value within the mine’s ability to make us of additional power.

Taking this into account, the scope for the development of the solar plant will increase its capacity from 40MW to 50MW and will allow for future expansion to 60MW within the existing environmental authorisation.

The design of the solar plant has been revised taking into account maximum output and allows for future upgrades. The 50MW solar plant will comprise 101,000 x 550W solar panels and will increase power generation from 94GWh per annum to 103GWh per annum or 24% of South Deep’s annual electricity consumption.

It will further reduce the mine’s carbon footprint by an additional 10,000 tonnes of CO2 a year to around 110,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.

The solar plant will be built and operated by South Deep at an estimated capital investment of R715 million.

The solar plant will reduce South Deep’s carbon footprint by around 110,000 tonnes of CO2 per year, not only enhancing the sustainability of our mine, but also contributing to Gold Fields’ long-term commitment to carbon neutrality.

Interesting facts:

  • Electricity currently comprises 10% of South Deep's annual cost
  • Electricity currently comprises 93% of South Deep's carbon emissions
  • The solar plant will result in annual savings of R123 million (24% of electricity costs) and will reduce our carbon emissions by over 110,000 tonnes
  • Construction of the solar plant will create 240 project jobs
  • 12 permanent jobs will be created
  • To cover an area of 105ha (roughly 200 soccer fields)
  • If all the solar panels were lined up next to each other end to end on the short side it would cover a distance of 115km. Traveling at 115km/h it would take a full hour to drive the length of the panels lined up next to each other. If all the solar panels were lined up next to each other end to end on the long side it would cover a distance of 230km. Traveling at 115km/h it would take two hours to drive the length of the panels lined up next to each other.
  • With two solar panels per length of structure if all the structures were lined up next to each other end to end it would cover a distance of 64km. This is roughly the distance from Johannesburg to South Deep.