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Lesotho eyes green energy production

Business

Staff Reporter

Following a series of meetings by the Lesotho delegation at the recent Mining Indaba with different stakeholders in the mining sector, the delegation has vowed to increase the country’s green energy production.

Green energy at the 2023 Africa Mining Indaba, which took place from February, 5- 8 in Cape Town, South Africa (SA), has been one of the major topics.

The Mining Indaba is an annual forum in which different stakeholders in the mining sector mainly from the African continent meet to discuss emerging trends and issues within the sector.

With SA currently experiencing major challenges such as electricity supply shortage, Lesotho wants to capitalise by increasing its energy production and sell to its struggling neighbour.

Lesotho’s Natural Resources Minister, Mohlomi Moleko, who was leading the Lesotho delegation at the Indaba, indicated that within a period of three years, Lesotho will start selling electricity to SA.

Moleko said he had a meeting with SA’s deputy minister of energy, Dr Nobuhle Nkabane, to start the conversations between SA and Lesotho on energy supply.

“I have also bumped and had a conversation with Eskom’s CEO and got a sense of the extent of the problem that SA faces when it comes to electricity and the need for mitigation strategies. He has indicated that SA does not have a problem getting into a power purchase agreement with Lesotho when the project is running.

“Energy has been the hot topic of the Mining Indaba where it has been clearly indicated that investors want to put their money in a country which has good infrastructure which will also reduce carbon emissions,” Moleko said.

He added that he also had side meetings with Australian investors who attended the conference and presented Lesotho’s opportunities and ways of investment in the mining industry.

Lesotho Chamber of Mines chairperson, Mohale Ralikariki, said that there was a need for support from the private sector to maximise Lesotho’s potential in mining.

“When we get home after this, it is important for us to sit down and plan how we are going to go from here. Lesotho has a competitive advantage when it comes to the production of clean energy for export and growing local businesses.

“Clean energy is one of the key infrastructures that investors are interested in when looking for countries to invest in. Lesotho has the potential to become pioneers of clean energy in Africa,” Ralikariki said.

When addressing the conference, SA President Cyril Ramaphosa said that through a regional power pool arrangement, SA had already imported 300 MW of capacity from neighbouring countries and was working to increase this by an additional 1,000 MW.

“South Africa experienced more power supply disruptions in 2022. This led to a decline in mineral production across all commodities. It is estimated that load shedding has cost the economy about R1 billion a day,” said SA’s Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, at the Mining Indaba.

Still at the indaba, Letšeng diamond mine scooped an Environmental, Social and, Governance (ESG) water award.

The award is said to be for the comprehensiveness of the company’s water management strategy for showing innovative and creative approaches to wetlands creation.

“We understand fully that water is life and the mining industries use a lot of water in the mining processes, the workers, and also the surrounding communities thus preservation is key to us. The award also encompasses sanitation as they go hand in hand with sanitation.

“We take this sanitation and water award very seriously and we will continue to use water in a good way so that our communities have access to water as well. We will continue with our project on access to water and sanitation,” Letšeng Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kelebone Leisanyane, said in acceptance of the award.

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