Rio Tinto, a global mining group that focuses on finding, mining and processing mineral resources, says it has approved a $98 million (100% basis) investment in a new solar plant at the Koodaideri mine in the Pilbara, Australia, as well as a lithium-ion battery energy storage system to help power its entire Pilbara power network.
The 34 MW solar photovoltaic plant is expected to supply all of Koodaideri’s electricity demand during peak solar power generation times and approximately 65% of the mine’s average electricity demand. Koodaideri, 100% owned by Rio Tinto, is located approximately 35 km north-west of Rio Tinto’s Yandicoogina mine site, and about 110 km from the town of Newman.
The plant, Rio Tinto’s first company-owned solar facility, will consist of an estimated 100,000 panels, covering an area of 105 hectares. Construction is expected to begin later in 2020, subject to government approvals, and is due to be completed in 2021.
Complementing it will be a 12 MWh battery energy storage system that will provide spinning reserve generating capacity to support a stable and reliable network.
Funding for the solar plant and battery sits within Rio Tinto’s existing guidance for sustaining capital expenditure for its iron ore business.
“The construction of our first solar plant in the Pilbara is a significant milestone for the business and an important step in reducing our carbon footprint in the region,” says Chris Salisbury, CEO of Rio Tinto.
“We are investigating additional renewable energy options in the Pilbara, as well as other opportunities to reduce emissions across our entire global portfolio, building on the 43% reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions since 2008,” he adds.
The $2.6 billion Koodaideri mine was approved in November 2019 with construction commencing in early 2020.
Photo: The Koodaideri mine.
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