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Rio Tinto switches to renewable energy in Madagascar

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(Kitco News) - Rio Tinto announced today that the company has signed a power purchasing agreement for a new renewable energy plant to power the operations of its QMM ilmenite mine in Fort Dauphin, Southern Madagascar.

The company said that this project, which uses solar and wind energy, will significantly contribute towards Rio Tinto’s operations in Madagascar achieving its carbon neutral objective by 2023.

According to a press-release, the renewable energy plant, to be built, owned and operated by independent power producer, CrossBoundary Energy (CBE), over a 20-year period, will consist of an 8 MW solar facility and a 12 MW wind energy facility to power mining and processing operations. There will also be a lithium-ion battery energy storage system of up to 8.25 MW as reserve capacity to ensure a stable and reliable network.

Rio Tinto pointed out that this plant will supply all of QMM’s electricity demand during peak generation times, and up to 60 percent of the operations’ annual electricity consumption. QMM will replace the majority of the power it currently supplies to the town of Fort Dauphin and the community of around 80,000 people with renewables.

The company added that construction is expected to begin this year with the solar plant scheduled to start operations at the beginning 2022. The wind power plant is planned to commence construction early 2022 and become operational by the end of 2022.

QIT Madagascar Minerals (QMM), is a joint venture between Rio Tinto (80%) and the government of Madagascar (20%). It is located near Fort Dauphin in the Anosy region of south-eastern Madagascar, and primarily produces ilmenite which is a major source of titanium dioxide, predominantly used as a white pigment in products such as paints and paper. QMM includes the deep-water Port d’Ehoala, where the raw material is shipped to the Rio Tinto Fer et Titane plant in Canada and processed into titanium dioxide.

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