Australia becoming the global centre for renewables for mines

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Driven by favourable economics and additional benefits including carbon reductions and social license, major and mid-tier Australian mines are adopting renewables.

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As recent project announcements show, the number of Australian mining operators seriously assessing and investing in renewables is growing rapidly. Driven by favourable economics and additional benefits including carbon reductions and social license, major and mid-tier Australian mines are adopting renewables.

South32 recently announced its 3MW solar farm for its Cannington mine in Queensland for which SunSHIFT is providing its re-deployable solar solution. Once complete, this will be the second largest solar project for a remote, off-grid Australian mine.

Similarly, Image Resources is investing in a 3-4 MW solar farm adjacent to its Boonanarring mine and processing plant, which are currently under construction. This ‘behind the meter’ solution will deliver around 25% of the facilities electricity needs.

GMA Garnet, a leading supplier of garnet used in blasting and water jet cutting, has locked in energy prices for the next 13 years for its Western Australia operations through a long-term power purchase agreement for wind and solar.

OZ Minerals also recently announced plans to build a solar and battery storage facility at its Prominent Hill mine in South Australia, and is looking at further investments in renewables to support other projects in the region.

The mine also became the first resource company to sign a transmission cost partnership with a renewables developer through its recent deal with SolarReserve.

Finally, New Century Resources is investing in SunSHIFT’s portable and scalable solar system to supply power for the reopening of its Century mine at $120/MWh which is a fraction of the $400/MWh it had been paying to run diesel.

And Copper Mines of Tasmania (CMT) has an ambitious plan to make Mt Lyell on Tasmania’s west coast Australia’s first zero emissions mine through investments in electrification and renewables.

In addition to these projects, there is quite simply a wealth of major mines and mid-tier leaders at various stages if assessing and approving renewable energy investments for remote and grid-tied sites.

While these projects are not yet public, many will be showcased at this year’s Energy and Mines Australia Summit on June 27-28 in Perth.

This heightened activity has positioned Australia as the fastest growing market for renewables for mines.  The main driver, of course, is economics. Depending on locally available wind and solar conditions, fuel savings from hybridisation can amount to up to 75%, according to juwi Renewable Energies.

The cost of solar modules is also falling by 3 to 8 percent annually. Battery storage is also becoming more economical with Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicting lithium-ion batteries will be priced at 73 USD/kWh in 2040 as compared to around 250 USD/kWh in 2017.

Senior mining representatives will meet with global renewable energy experts in Perth this June 27-28 to discuss renewables integration.

This 2nd annual Energy and Mines Australia Summit,features presenters from BHP, Sandfire Resources, Fortescue Metals Group, Rio Tinto, South32, Nyrstar, Oz Minerals, Australian Vanadium, Panoramic Resources, Montezuma Mining Company, Resolute Mining and Gold Fields.

Meanwhile, the business case for renewables integration is being underlined by successful landmark projects including Sandfire Resources’ DeGrussa Solar Project and Rio Tinto’s Weipa Solar Farm.

Currently, the DeGrussa project is offsetting more than 450,000 litres of diesel per month, which adds up to more than 25 million litres of diesel saved over 5 and half years or around 20% of the mine’s total fuel consumption.

Adrienne Baker is Director of Energy and Mines
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9 Comments
  1. Ren Stimpy 1 year ago

    Well done!

  2. palmz 1 year ago

    This sentence says it all about remote mines using diesel for power! That is a cost saving of 70%. You would be mad not to use solar to offset diesel.

    “scalable solar system to supply power for the reopening of its Century mine at $120/MWh which is a fraction of the $400/MWh it had been paying to run diesel.”

    • juxx0r 1 year ago

      huh? we only pay $180/MWh for diesel.

      That said, if you’ve got a mine life over 5 years you’re insane not to be running solar for at least 1 set’s worth.

      • Steven Gannon 1 year ago

        The cost is higher because of the cost of transport to the remote mines, plus plant maintence costs.

        • juxx0r 1 year ago

          Nope, that was including 1000km of trucking and maintenance and profit to a third party.

  3. Faulco Pete 1 year ago

    Good news, of course. But it underlines what a flawed species humans are. We are moving off fossil fuels because of economics, not because it might preserve the only planet that we have. What a sad indictment of us and our group think.

    • Eric 1 year ago

      Not really. The fact is if you are an energy intensive industry you might go out of business if you don’t use the cheaper power you can find. That is the simple reality.
      The other is that the subsidies and insentives created in China and Europe have created the renewable industry. So people did see what was happening with the planet and decided to do something about it. That is why it is affordable for business to put up renewable now. And in Australia we have had quite generous incentives for quite a long time now to instal renewable energy. Hence the huge growth.
      You don’t change the human energy system in a year or a decade. It will take 50 years. But we are well on our way and now economics has taken over it will only get quicker. All done by 2050 across the globe Imo

    • Nick Kemp 1 year ago

      Capitalism doesn’t have much time for altruism. Sad but true

    • My_Oath 1 year ago

      Errr no… coal held sway because it was the cheapest, not the best option, The way to beat it, the ONLY way, is to beat it at its strength.

      VHS didn’t beat Beta because it was better, but because it was cheaper.

      Cassettes didn’t beat cartridges because they were better, but because they were cheaper.

      Renewables have to get cheaper to beat out FFs. It is the ONLY way to beat them. It is the ONLY way it is going to happen. Sure subsidies and a carbon price should also be included IMO, but they serve one purpose: to aid in making RE cheaper than its FF competition.

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