BHP and Goldfields TransAlta have announced plans to build two solar farms and a battery storage system to help power the Mt Keith open-pit mine and the Leinster underground mine in Western Australia, which form a part of BHP’s Nickel West business.
The Northern Goldfields Solar Project is proposed to include a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith and a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW battery at Leinster and will displace power currently supplied by diesel and gas turbine generation.
This will result in an estimated reduction of 540,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent over the first 10 years of operation. This is the equivalent of removing up to 23,000 combustion engine cars from the road every year.
TransAlta will build, own and operate the Northern Goldfields Solar Project. Total construction capital of the project is estimated at A$73 million.
Following an extensive tender process, TransAlta has entered into an engineering, procurement and construction agreement with juwi Renewable Energy Pty Ltd.
The project is the first renewable energy project to be developed under the Power Purchase Agreement TransAlta and BHP signed in October 2020.
Construction on the solar farms and battery is forecast to commence in the second quarter of 2022, take 12-14 months to complete, and at its peak, employ over 100 people on-site.
BHP Nickel West, Asset President, Eddy Haegel, said: “This is the first large-scale onsite solar farm and battery that BHP has commissioned at any of its global operations.”
“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will further improve our position as one of the lowest carbon nickel miners in the world. It will reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12 per cent, reduce fuel costs and improve the reliability of our electricity supply with the addition of the battery storage system.”
“This announcement follows the nickel supply agreement we signed with Tesla last week. Sustainable low carbon nickel is essential for our battery and electric vehicle customers,” Mr Haegel said.
TransAlta Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer, John Kousinioris, commented: “We are proud to be supporting BHP’s emissions reduction targets and sustainability goals through the expansion of our renewable generation footprint into Australia.”
The partnership will contribute to BHP’s medium-term target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions from its operated assets by at least 30 per cent from FY2020 levels by FY2030.
The project remains subject to final WA state government approvals.