Mining companies should use electricity utilities to help develop Africa's energy infrastructure, the World Bank says.
In a report, the bank says that rather than supplying their own energy on site, mines can become major customers for electricity utilities or independent power producers (IPPs), which can then develop better infrastructure to bring low-cost power to communities.
Power of the Mine: A Transformative Opportunity for Sub-Saharan Africa says two-thirds of people in Sub-Saharan Africa live entirely without electricity, and with current rates of population growth, there will be more Africans without power by 2030 than there are now.
Many mining companies opt to supply their own electricity with diesel generators rather than buy power from the grid, often because of shortcomings in national power systems in the region. According to the report, another 10 gigawatts of electricity will be added to meet mining power demand by 2020 from 2012 levels.
Part of this is projected to come from “self-supply” arrangements costing mining companies up to $3.3 billion. However, the report says that new models of power supply for mines are emerging across Sub-Saharan Africa, including mines self-supplying and selling to the grid or serving as anchor consumers for IPPs.
The World Bank says that mining companies can play a key role in harnessing Africa’s abundant clean sources of energy, and calls on the industry to work more closely with electricity utilities in the region to meet their growing energy demands.