The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) has approved the issuing of a generation licence to GFI Joint Venture Holdings Proprietary Limited and Gold Fields Operations Limited (South Deep Joint Venture) to operate a 40MW solar photovoltaic (PV) plant.
The generation facility will be constructed in Westonaria, south-west of Johannesburg in the Gauteng Province.
On 1 February 2020, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy issued approval for deviation from the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for self-generation projects of any capacity.
Following this approval, South Deep Joint Venture submitted a compliant application on 18 June 2020.
"The application could not be processed within the required timelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the application was subjected to public participation process with a virtual public hearing conducted on 3 December 2021.
"The 40MW solar PV plant will be constructed on the same site as the South Deep Gold Mine and all power generated by the plant will be consumed by the mine," NERSA said on Thursday.
The energy regulator has noted unverified and misleading media reports that NERSA has delayed processing this application since 2017.
"It must be indicated that South Deep Gold Mine submitted its first application for a generation licence of a 40MW solar plant in 2017. However, this application could not be processed because it was not compliant with the requirements of the Electricity Regulation Act, 2006.
"The application did not have Ministerial approval to deviate from the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), as was required by section 10(2)(g) of the Electricity Regulation Act, 2006," NERSA said.
South Deep Gold Mine also did not have environmental authorisation as required by the National Environmental Management Act, 1998.
"NERSA engaged with and guided South Deep Gold Mine on how to ensure that the application is compliant with the legal requirements to enable NERSA to process the application. In this regard, several consultation meetings were held between NERSA and South Deep Gold Mine," the energy regulator said.