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ABOUT

Rhino Resources Ltd  is a private company exploring for energy sources and helium in Africa. Its South African subsidiary Rhino Oil and Gas Exploration South Africa Pty Ltd holds onshore exploration licences with biogenic gas, helium and native hydrogen potential. 

Rhino was recapitalised with European and American investment in late 2021 and mandated to seek value through the energy mix with a strong focus on all aspects of Environmental, Social and Governance principles (ESG).

Our ambition is to enable and participate in the vast potential of renewable electricity in South Africa by helping unlock structural deficiencies such as a robust reactive power generation network underpinned by reliable energy resources along with supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a diesel replacement.

SOUTH AFRICA

Rhino is focused on onshore exploration for biogenic methane, helium, and native hydrogen across several licences at different explorations stages;  Exploration Rights (ERs) and Technical Co-Operation Permits (TCPs).

Rhino is currently undertaking Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies and has  contracted SLR as EIA practitioner to prepare for future exploration drilling activities on ER294 and ER318

As early as the 1920s, gold miners south of Johannesburg were surprised to find methane gas flowing out of assay boreholes drilled into ancient quartzites, with little explanation as to its origin. Termed “blower” wells, hundreds of these were drilled throughout the region over the next several decades as gold (and platinum) mining progressed deeper into the subsurface. Methane was recognised as a significant and near-ubiquitous hazard,  yet a convincing description of its origin was never resolved. It wasn’t until the early 2000s that a more credible explanation for the gas was proposed: biogenic methane actively generated by archaea.

Despite being a primitive life-form found in a variety of habitats, including the rumens of cattle, archaea were unknown to biology until the 1970s. In part this is because archaea tend to thrive in places where other organisms with more efficient metabolic pathways, such as bacteria, cannot exist. These “extremophiles” are found in environments where high temperatures, anoxia, salinities, and pH may preclude other life. Many archaea are methanogenic, creating methane as a metabolic product by degrading partially-degraded organic material or by combining free hydrogen with carbon.

Hydrogen is not only the elemental building block for the universe, it is also a critical constituent for life—most directly for archaea. Free hydrogen in the biosphere is relatively rare, as organisms like archaea will convert it to methane if provided the opportunity. On earth, there are two processes that are currently perceived to be volumetrically significant to create free hydrogen: radiolysis and hydration of iron silicates. Radiolysis is the process whereby radioactive decay splits water into its constituent ions, liberating hydrogen. In the subsurface, the naturally-occurring radionuclides uranium, thorium, and potassium are responsible for most of this production. Hydration of iron silicates is another means of hydrogen production, where the alteration of minerals into more stable phases also liberates hydrogen. In South Africa, the widespread occurrence of basaltic dikes and intrusions across the Karoo are likely candidates for hydrogen production, as are more ancient lava flows (like the 2.7 billion-year-old Ventersdorp Group or the 2.3 billion-year-old Pretoria and Rooiberg groups of the Transvaal Supergroup). The archaea in the subsurface here are known to be actively creating methane from hydrogen, which is also sometimes found in low proportions in blower wells.

This biogenic methane is different to most accumulations of methane on Earth, which are related to the thermal degradation of kerogen - organic matter derived from plants or microbes that lived millions to hundreds of millions of years ago. This “fossil” energy (colloquially termed “natural gas”) is notionally stored solar energy,  where as part of the Earth’s natural carbon cycle,  photosynthesis provided the original means to convert CO2 and H2O into organic structures. While these molecules now constitute storage of energy at high density and therefore prove useful as fuel, there are two primary shortcomings: fossil fuels are limited in supply and usage greatly outstrips the rate of natural production, and more critically, combusting these fuels  releases millions of years -worth of CO2 instantaneously (in geological time) overwhelming the carbon cycle’s ‘processing capacity’. This excess of CO2 in the atmosphere leads to the greenhouse effect, which is then further linked to climate change. A sustainable future that mitigates climate change and provides energy to fuel modern living and economic activity requires a change in which hydrocarbons we use, how we use them, and ultimately how much we use.

ESG

Producing gas whilst maintaining clean air, water, arable land, and livelihoods is not only Rhino’s commitment but our foundational principle. Our exploration activities correspond closely with the drilling of water wells and mining assay wells – activities which are very familiar to the Free State.
Rhino strongly believes its activities must be aligned with the interests of the communities in which we operate. We have held numerous meetings across the Free State over the past year to explain our purpose and principles, hear and understand concerns, and align on proposed activities. These meetings have closely informed Rhino’s plans and way forward.
In the event of exploration success, it will be essential for us to build local capability for the development and production of the resources. Rhino would look to train and employ people from the community as well as contract locally for business services. More broadly, we seek to contribute to alleviating the energy crisis in South Africa by replacing unreliable energy derived from some of the most polluting coal industries on earth with domestically produced gas-fired power, itself supporting extensive solar/wind generated power, while supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a diesel replacement.

STANCE ON FRACKING
Rhino has no interest or ambition in exploring for shale gas or the associated use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking). From a technical perspective there is no geological merit to undertake fracking of shales on any part of Rhino’s licenced acreage, today or in the future. Aligned with this, Rhino’s Environmental Impact Assessment does not consider fracking and our application for Environmental Approval excludes any request for permission to frack. As an additional assurance, there is no regulatory authority which allows for fracking in South Africa.

CONTACT

info@rhinoresourcesltd.com

Rhino Resources Ltd
Icon Building, 24 Hans Strijdom Avenue
Foreshore, Cape Town, 8001
South Africa
+27 21 140 0920