Rio Tinto will invest $98 million in a new solar plant at the Koodaideri mine in the Pilbara, as well as a lithium-ion battery energy storage system to help power its entire Pilbara power network.
The 34 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant, which will consist of an estimated 100,000 panels, 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.
Complementing it will be a new 12MWh battery energy storage system in Tom Price that will provide spinning reserve generating capacity to support a stable and reliable network.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said the solar plant and battery are estimated to lower annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 90,000 tonnes compared to conventional gas powered generation.
He said construction is expected to begin later this year, subject to government approvals, and is due to be completed in 2021.
“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,” Mr Salisbury continued.
“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 per cent reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions since 2008.”
Located approximately 35 kilometres north-west of Rio Tinto’s Yandicoogina mine site, the $2.6 billion Koodaideri mine was approved in November last year with construction commencing earlier this year.
Once fully operational, the site will have production capacity of 43 million tonnes annually with first production is expected to commence by the end of 2021.