• Company to source 4.3 megawatts from plant for 15 years
  • Plant captures 20% of thermal heat that metal smelter produces

Anglo American Platinum Ltd. said it has started buying power from a venture that uses the heat generated by its smelters to produce electricity.

Amplats, as the world’s largest platinum producer in known, will source 4.3 megawatts from the 150 million-rand ($11 million) plant that was built by Vuselela Energy at the mining company’s smelters in Rustenburg in the North West province, it said in a statement handed to reporters at the site on Monday. The facility captures about 20 percent of the thermal heat energy that a converter generates, said Jacques Malan, a director of Vuselela.

“We can probably squeeze out another 10 percent, but that will take time,” Malan said in an interview. The power is about 10 percent cheaper than what Amplats currently pays to Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned utility, Malan said. Cost increases are capped at the nation’s annual inflation rate, which was 4.6 percent in August, he said.

Mining companies in South Africa, the world’s biggest platinum and chrome producer, are seeking to reduce their reliance on Eskom, which is struggling to maintain regular supply while prices have almost quadrupled since 2007.

Vuselela is in talks to build another 12 similar plants in South Africa and neighboring countries, Malan said.

The facility “is the first of its kind in the world in terms of being connected to a converter at a metallurgical plant,” he said. “A significant amount of novel work was done to design the integration of the technology into the smelter complex.”

South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry contributed 30 million rand toward the project as an incentive, Minister Rob Davies told reporters.

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