London, 16 Oct (AIM) – The Australian mining company Syrah Resources has announced that it has begun using its 11.25 Megawatt solar plant to power over a third of its electricity requirements for the Balama graphite mine in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.
In an announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange, the company states that its solar and battery hybrid system will supply on average 35 per cent of the power requirements of Balama, reducing carbon emissions by 13 per cent. This will save 16,000 litres of diesel fuel per day and will in addition have the added advantage of improving the stability of the diesel generating system.
The electricity is generated by 20,832 solar modules which cover a surface area of 5.4 hectares. This is sufficient to supply Balama’s power requirements during peak daylight times with any surplus energy stored in an 8.5 MW/MWh battery system. Balama’s diesel power generation plant will provide baseload power requirements overnight and incremental power requirements at other times.
According to Syrah’s managing director and chief executive, Shaun Verner, “The achievement of full operations of the solar and battery hybrid system is the culmination of extensive feasibility study, equipment procurement, construction, and commissioning activities completed by the Syrah team, Solarcentury Africa, and CrossBoundary Energy over several years”.
He added, “The solar and battery hybrid system delivers significant net operating cost savings, reduces our exposure to volatile high diesel costs and further strengthens the environmental, social, and governance credentials of Balama’s natural graphite products. We look forward to continuing to work with CrossBoundary Energy through the operating lease term”.
The Balama graphite mine covers 106 square kilometres and is reported to hold the largest graphite reserves ever discovered. It is an open-cast mine and Syrah estimates the lifespan of the resource at more than fifty years. The mine was officially inaugurated by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi in April 2018 although graphite mining began in November 2017.
Graphite is a highly valued form of carbon due to its properties as a conductor of electricity. It is used in batteries and fuel cells and is the basis for the “miracle material” graphene, which is the strongest material ever measured, with vast potential for use in the electronics industries.