Australian mining company Oz Minerals says the latest study into its proposed $1 billion West Musgrave nickel projects in a remote part of Western Australia shows it could be one of the world’s biggest off-grid renewable powered mines in the world.
Oz Minerals says the pre-feasibility study “confirms” the “off-grid renewable power solution” which would see wind and solar account for 70-80 per cent of the projects’s power needs.
But it also focusing on a roadmap to 100 per cent renewables generation – through a combination of wind, solar and battery storage – with flexible demand being matched with the supply and excess renewables to supply an electric transport and logistics fleet.
“Renewable energy for the project continues to be a key focus in the next phase of study, with an ongoing commitment to an off-grid renewable power solution,” the company says in a statement to the market.
“With a future focus on developing a roadmap to 100% renewable generation, and reducing dependency upon fossil fuels over time, West Musgrave will become one of the largest fully off-grid, renewable powered mines in the world.”
As we wrote back in September, BHP has already committed to 100 per cent renewables at its massive Chile operations – helped by that country’s extraordinary solar resources and its hydro plants – and has torn up a long term coal contract (at great cost) to deliver it.
BHP and other big iron ore miners like Rio Tinto and Fortescue are also looking for renewables to dominate their power supply in the Pilbara and elsewhere.
Oz Minerals, meanwhile, put out a call for ideas on how to use “spilled energy” to reach 100 per cent renewable power, and it suspects that demand management – devising software that ensure its energy demand coincides with high wind and solar output – is a key.
Oz Minerals is looking for a supply agreement for around 50MW – initially through a combination of wind, solar, battery, plus diesel or gas, but ultimately with no fossil fuel power at all. It would save significant sums in power costs and 220,000 tonnes of Co2 emissions each year.
“Modelling has demonstrated that circa 70–80% renewables penetration can be achieved for the site, with the current modelled to be an optimised mix of wind, solar and diesel supported by a battery installation,” it says.
“There remains considerable upside in power cost through matching plant power demand with the availability of renewable supply (load scheduling), haulage electrification to maximise the proportion of renewable energy utilised and the continued improvement in the efficiency of renewable energy solutions.”
Oz Minerals is now looking to spend $67 million on a full feasibility study for the nickel project, which could cash in on increased demand for nickel in the switch to electric vehicles, with a final investment decision due in 2022.