Banpu’s rare earth pivot for cleaner energy

Photo by Albert Hyseni on Unsplash.

Banpu, a Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET)-listed company, is planning a strategic shift towards the mining of rare earth, a move anticipated to replace its coal mining operations as the firm prioritises the creation of a cleaner, smarter energy.

The company’s interest is especially piqued by the elements required to produce lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).

Banpu is in discussions with mine operators from Indonesia, Laos, and Australia about potential business partnerships, according to Jamon Jamuang, Banpu’s senior vice president for mine engineering and development.

While declining to disclose the names of the companies involved, Jamuang stated that the new venture is projected to materialise within the next few years.

In Indonesia, a promising opportunity for a rare earth mine is being explored through Indo Tambangraya Megah, Banpu’s Indonesian coal mining subsidiary.

Indo Tambangraya Megah reported coal sales of 9.9 million tonnes in the first half of this year and predicts achieving a sales target of 21.5-22.2 million tonnes by 2023.

Approximately 40 years ago, Banpu initiated its coal operations. However, with increasing global advocacy for cleaner energy sources, the company diversified its interests to include power generation and energy technology development. This included an investment in a solar power plant in Japan.

Banpu’s chief executive, Somruedee Chaimongkol, stated emphatically that the company will refrain from new investments in the coal industry, as they are keen on generating revenue from businesses that align with their greener and smarter energy strategy.

To facilitate the transition from coal to rare earths, Banpu is conducting a study on the feasibility of this business shift, focusing on essential minerals that can bolster clean energy solutions. This initiative is part of the company’s decade-long plan to transform its businesses, technology, and workforce.

Banpu has committed US$2 billion (72.6 billion baht) to support the growth of its various business units between 2023 and 2025. In the power sector, run by Banpu Power Plc, the company plans to increase its electricity generation capacity from the current 4.97 gigawatts (GW) to 6.1GW by 2025.

Banpu is also expanding its gas business in the United States, utilising carbon capture, utilisation, and storage technology to decrease carbon dioxide emissions.

In the energy technology sector, Banpu is working towards increasing the power generation capacity of its rooftop and floating solar panels to 500 megawatts by 2025.

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Alex Morgan

Alex is a 42-year-old former corporate executive and business consultant with a degree in business administration. Boasting over 15 years of experience working in various industries, including technology, finance, and marketing, Alex has acquired in-depth knowledge about business strategies, management principles, and market trends. In recent years, Alex has transitioned into writing business articles and providing expert commentary on business-related issues. Fluent in English and proficient in data analysis, Alex strives to deliver well-researched and insightful content to readers, combining practical experience with a keen analytical eye to offer valuable perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape.

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