Rio Tinto closes coal plant, taps renewables to power Utah mine

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Rio Tinto opts to power Kennecott copper mine in Utah with renewables, via power purchase agreement, after permanently shutting the facility’s coal plant.

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One Step Off The Grid

ASX listed mining giant Rio Tinto is walking the walk of its recent pledge to support renewables and climate action – and not prop up coal – by closing down the coal plant at one of its US copper mines and buying clean energy, instead.

The miner said last week that it would permanently close the 75 year-old coal power station at its Kennecott Utah Copper operations, which has been idle since 2017 as part of managing seasonal air quality and maintenance requirements.

In its place, Rio will purchase 1.5 million megawatt-hours of renewable energy certificates from Rocky Mountain Power, mostly sourced from its Utah portfolio, including wind power from Wyoming.

The company said the decision to permanently shut the coal plant was made over and above other options, including moving to gas – although natural gas is already used at Kennecott, alongside diesel power, for the mine’s fleet and processing facilities.

The shift is expected to cut the carbon footprint of the facility by as much as 65 per cent.

“Rio Tinto is committed to playing a part in the transition to a low-carbon economy,” said CEO J-S Jacques in comments last week.

“This move will significantly reduce emissions associated with our operations in Kennecott and allow us to offer customers copper, gold and silver with a reduced carbon footprint.

To read the full story on RenewEconomy sister site, One Step Off The Grid, click here…

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