[VIDEO] DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine nearing completion of $40 million solar project
Situated north-east of Perth in Western Australia, the DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine is expected to become the largest integrated off-grid solar and battery storage facility in Australia.
Owned by Sandfire Resources, DeGrussa is part of a $40 million project that will see the construction of a 10.6MW solar PV array, incorporating roughly 34,080 PV panels covering an area of 50 acres, with “MW” of battery storage to power the underground copper mine and processing plant.
The project, which commenced construction activities in July 2015, is currently 50 percent finished and expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.
According to the developer of the project, juwi Renewable Energy, installation of the solar modules is expected to be complete early in 2016, with other items to be installed in the coming months, including the solar inverter to change the electric current from DC to AC, transformers, and other electrical accessories and control systems.
The innovative project is expected to set a new benchmark in the use of renewable energy for the resource sector, rivaling Rio Tinto’s solar-power Weipa bauxite mine in Queensland.
The solar project will provide the majority of the mine's daytime electricity requirement, offsetting diesal consumption by 20 percent, while cutting carbon emission by an estimated 12,000 tons per year.
• Related content: WATCH: Weipa Solar Plant - Construction timelapse
"We identified some time ago that solar power presented an exciting opportunity for us to participate in a low-risk renewable energy initiative at DeGrussa,” said Sandfire Managing Director, Karl Simich.
“The DeGrussa Solar Power Project has the potential to reduce the mine’s diesel consumption and is consistent with our relentless focus on driving down costs.”
Financing for the project has been provided by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which has committed up to $15 million, while the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $20.9 million of funding with French renewable energy firm Neoen contributing the remaining balance.
Under a Power Purchase Agreement with juwi Renewable Energy Pty Ltd, Sandfire will be the customer/off-taker for the power generated, with juwi developing and operating the project.
BHP, Rio Tinto & Vale launch Charge On Innovation Challenge
Mining giants BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto have launched the 'Charge On' Innovation Challenge to solve one of the biggest challenges the industry faces today - decarbonising mining operations.
'Charge On' Innovation Challenge
In partnership with Austmine, Australia's leading mining equipment, technology and services industry association, founding patrons BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto have launched the competition to encourage technology innovators to develop new concepts for large-scale haul truck electrification systems. The main goal is cutting emissions from surface mining operations.
“The mining industry needs to be at the forefront of tackling the climate challenge. The Charge On Innovation Challenge is a great example of the current collaborative work being done by the mining industry and mobile equipment manufacturers to decarbonise mining fleets,” the trio said in a media statement.
“In addition to providing a zero-carbon energy source, the conversion of mobile mining equipment to battery-electric can potentially unlock value, as electric motors have fewer moving parts when compared to standard equipment.”
A number of non-traditional mining sector vendors are actively developing technologies that can assist in mine electrification. By submitting a Challenge to the market, the Patrons of Charge On expect to:
- Demonstrate there is an emerging market for charging solutions in mining
- Accelerate commercialization of solutions
- Indicate to suppliers, the mining industry seeks interoperable solutions
- Maintain multiple actors and competition in the supply chain
- Integrate innovations from other sectors into the mining sector
"We expect some solutions identified in the Challenge could provide propulsion to existing diesel-electric trucks. This may present a pathway to early implementation for dynamic charging solutions," the trio said.
Found patrons BHP, Vale and Rio Tinto are pledging their commitment to fighting climate change:
"The mining industry has an important role to reduce emissions and do our part to achieve the Paris Agreement goals to limit the impacts of climate change."
The Charge On Innovation Challenge asks vendors to present interoperable solutions that can safely deliver electricity to large battery-electric off-road haul trucks in a way that maintains or improves current productivity levels. Specifically, mechanisms capable of delivering in the order of 400kWh of electricity to each truck within a haul cycle (ie load, travel, dump, return, queue). The delivered electricity is to charge a battery, and if applicable directly propel the truck.
Austmine CEO Christine Gibbs Stewart commented: “We expect the Challenge will attract companies from a broad range of sectors including mining, automotive, aerospace, agriculture, and defence to deliver selected charging concepts to create a standard product that can interface with all trucks."
More information about the challenge will be released on May 18.
The competition echoes growing efforts being made across the industry to tackle emmissions and promote electrification. In march this year, the Electric Mine Consortium was launched. It's founding members include Gold Fields, Dassualt Systemes and Sandvik who pledged their commitment to decarbonising mining operations.