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Proposed biofuels plant in South Africa gathers pace

Metal producing company Harmony Gold Mining is planning renewable energy plants in the north of South Africa.

As well as a solar power plant, Harmony has been looking into the feasibility of growing crops for a biofuels plant that may be built in South Africa’s central Free State province.

The reason for these projects is because Harmony is assessing ways of generating energy and improving the security of power supplies by utilising some of its owned land. Electricity accounts for over 15% of its costs in producing each ounce of precious metal and, when demand outweighs demand like in January 2008, several Harmony mines had to stop work for nearly a week.

According to Harmony environment executive Melanie Naidoo-Vermaak, Harmony would use some of the output from a biofuels plant to replace diesel and polyfuel at its mines and sell the rest to nearby farmers.

A decision on the project will be made over the next 12 to 18 months.