By Caterpillar | Posted July 8, 2022
As the role of electric power in mining operations becomes increasingly important, customers are seeking power solutions that deliver the proven reliability and durability they need with the ready availability and sustainability that the latest renewable sources of energy can provide.
That’s why B2Gold Corp. selected Caterpillar and Cat® dealer Barloworld to supply 7 MW of solar power at the Otjikoto Mine in the Republic of Namibia. This full hybrid energy solution includes Cat photovoltaic solar modules, the Cat microgrid master controller (MMC), and Cat Connect remote asset monitoring integrated with a preexisting heavy fuel oil (HFO) power plant that has been used as the primary power source for the mining facility.
Barloworld supplied engineering, procurement and construction services for the project. Installation of the system was completed in early 2018.
“At B2Gold, we embrace environmental stewardship and social responsibility as key corporate priorities in doing business,” said Mark Dawe, Managing Director and Country Manager for B2Gold Namibia. “As one of the largest solar installations in Namibia, the facility at the Otjikoto Mine will help us to leverage a plentiful, renewable resource while improving the quality of life for nearby communities.”
Caterpillar’s hybrid energy solutions offer an innovative lineup of power systems that adds environmentally friendly solar panels; state-of-the-art energy conversion and storage technologies; and advanced monitoring and control systems to Caterpillar’s traditional line of reliable power generation equipment, which includes HFO, natural gas and diesel generator sets; switchgear; and automatic transfer switches. This portfolio is designed to reduce fuel expenses, lower utility bills, decrease emissions, and reduce the total cost of ownership while increasing energy efficiency in even the most challenging environments.
The Cat Master Microgrid Controller (MMC) keeps loads continuously energized with high-quality power at the lowest cost. It manages the flow of power from every source in the system, including the main grid when connected. The Cat MMC determines optimum recharge times for the energy storage systems while managing power during times when solar energy is not available.
The Cat Bi-Directional Power (BDP) converter uses a world-class insulated gate bipolar transistor (IGBT) to seamlessly control the charge and discharge of energy storage options, which can range from traditional lead-acid batteries to lithium-ion or ultracapacitors.
B2Gold’s Otjikoto Mine operates in the region of Otjozondjupa approximately 190 miles (300 km) north of the capital city of Windhoek, which makes it essential for the real-time collection and communication of onsite performance data that can be monitored and analyzed remotely. Cat Connect Remote Asset Monitoring offers real-time collection and remote monitoring of site performance data in Cat Microgrid applications. Providing data, visualization, reporting, and alerts from anywhere in the world through an easy-to-use web interface, this technology helps operators and Cat dealers track and manage the operation of the system, confirm desired cost savings, flag potential problems, perform remote troubleshooting, offer long-term archives of site performance history, and identify opportunities for further operational or system enhancement.
The economic viability of remote mining operations depends on the cost-efficient generation of power. Caterpillar hybrid energy technologies provide a scalable, sustainable power solution that significantly reduces fuel consumption while delivering the reliable power needed to support mining sites.
Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, B2Gold Corp. is the world's new senior gold producer. Founded in 2007, B2Gold today has five operating gold mines and numerous exploration and development projects in various countries including Nicaragua, the Philippines, Namibia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Colombia and Finland. In 2018, consolidated gold production is forecast to be between 910,000 and 950,000 ounces, representing an annual increase in consolidated gold production of approximately 300,000 ounces.
Caterpillar supplied the original 25 MW of power capacity to the Otjikoto Mine when it opened in 2014 through four Cat 12CM32 HFO medium-speed engines and three Cat 3516B high-speed generator sets. The mine reported a record year in 2017, producing 191,534 ounces of gold.