The nation’s largest gold miner is looking into possibilities to reduce its reliance on Eskom, including green hydrogen and natural gas.
Investors desperate to fulfill targets for cutting carbon emissions and Eskom’s coal-fired power plants frequently breaking down are pressuring South African miners to find alternatives.
On the sidelines of an African mining conference in Cape Town, Peter Steenkamp, CEO of Harmony Gold, told Reuters, “We are really keen to see what’s happening as far as hydrogen power is concerned.”
Hydrogen has been considered by many major companies as a means of decreasing emissions, however, it can only be considered carbon-neutral if it is produced with renewable energy.
Despite the fact that using liquefied natural gas (LNG) for electricity will not help Harmony Gold achieve its net zero emissions goal, Steenkamp stated that the company is looking into using natural gas to power some of its operations.
Due to the erratic nature of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, Harmony needs a baseload generating option for Eskom’s coal-fired power, which LNG or hydrogen could provide.
Steenkamp stated that the company is simply doing a feasibility study but did not provide a deadline for choosing which technology it might use.
According to last year’s annual report, phase three of its renewable power target, which it expects to reach by 2026, will cover the requirement for baseload, or the minimal reliable power supply to permit operations.
The gold miner has set a goal to reach net zero by 2045, but it has not yet provided details on how it would get there. As part of its present strategy, it aims to source at least 30% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2026 or 2027 and cut its carbon emissions by 20%.