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B2Gold has approved $38 million for the implementation of one of the world’s largest off-grid solar battery hybrid systems at the Fekola gold mine in Mali, West Africa.

A preliminary study was conducted earlier this year by Suntrace and BayWa, to evaluate the technical and economic viability of adding the solar battery plant to the mine site.

Following the study results, the project was approved and implementation is planned for 2019-2020, to be completed in August 2020.

The PV-battery system will be integrated with the existing power plant to ensure safe and reliable operation of the hybrid and allow fuel savings of 13.1 million liters HFO per year.

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Electricity for the mining site is currently generated exclusively by means of HFO (heavy fuel oil) and diesel generators. The addition of the 30MW net capacity solar battery plant will allow the mine to shut-off up to three HFO engines during daylight time, with the 13.5MWh battery storage providing the buffer for the irradiation fluctuations. Therefore the solar battery system will significantly cut total energy costs and CO2 emissions.

“It is a strong commitment by B2Gold to build such a significant solar-battery plant as a fuel saver for the Fekola mine. This project is a landmark in terms of battery and PV plant size with respect to an off-grid project. We are very proud that B2Gold has entrusted Suntrace/BayWa as experts to support the implementation of this innovative project,” says Martin Schlecht, COO of Suntrace.

“This is a great achievement for B2Gold and their move towards sustainable production. The fuel savings will enable repayment on the investment as well as lower energy costs and cut carbon emissions”, says Tobias Kriete, regional manager Africa at BayWa Solar Projects GmbH.

Suntrace together with its partner BayWa were selected to support B2Gold during implemention of the project and provide technical expertise, such as detailed engineering, procurement support and support during construction and commissioning until completion of the project.