May 17, 2020

[VIDEO] DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine nearing completion of $40 million solar project

mine sites
Solar Energy
Australian Renewable E
2 min
[VIDEO] Australian 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...

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.

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Jul 20, 2021

British Lithium Pressured Due To Calls for Electric Cars

3 min
The ever-increasing need for electric vehicles is mounting pressure on British Lithium as the 2035 deadline inches closer

The British demand for lithium is set to reach 75,000 tonnes by 2035 as the government works towards their ban on the sale of high-polluting diesel and petrol vehicles within the UK. This comes as automakers worldwide continue to insist on the benefits electric vehicles will have on slowing the rate of climate change. 

It is estimated that the UK will require 50,000-60,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year by 2035 for battery production to satisfy government needs. This is assuming production remains at 1.2 million vehicles per year, and the amount of lithium required does not increase.

British Lithium, which hopes to begin constructing a quarry to produce 20,000 MT of lithium carbonate a year in a $400 million investment, are not without competitors, both within the UK and abroad. 

Competition For Lithium Rises In Europe 

After only five years after its initial launch, Cornish Lithium is setting its sights on becoming a UK powerhouse in mining lithium, aiming to begin commercial production in under four years. Jeremy Wrathall, a former investment banker and current managing director of Cornish Lithium, had the future in mind when founding the company. 

“In 2016, I started to think about the electric vehicle revolution and what that would mean for metal demand, and I started to think about lithium,” he said in an interview with AFP. “A friend of mine mentioned lithium being identified in Cornwall, and I just wondered if that was a sort of unrecognised thing in the UK.”

Lithium was first discovered in Cornwall around 1864 and has not been mined again since 1914 when it was produced as an ingredient in fireworks. Now, however, Cornish Lithium is reportedly in the testing stage to see if the metal can be produced commercially to meet the growing demand required for the electric car sector. 

Despite Cornwall’s close historic ties to mining lithium, Wrathall insists that the project is purely commercial. 

Cornish Mining Revival For Lithium Production

“It’s not a mission that drives me to the point of being emotional or romantic,” he says. “It’s vitally important that we do get this technology otherwise Europe has got no lithium supply.”

The European Commission has also stated their goal to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035 to aid the environment. That being said, the majority of lithium extraction currently relies on power provided by environmentally damaging fossil fuels─a slight contradiction. 

Alex Keynes, from the Brussels-based lobby group Transport & Environment, is adamant that mining for lithium should be done sustainably. 

“Our view is that medium-to-long term, the majority of materials including lithium should come from efficient and clean recycling.

“Europe from a strategic point of view should be looking at securing its own supply of lithium.”

Despite growing competition from abroad, British Lithium Chairman, Roderick Smith, continues to place importance on the mining of lithium within the UK. 

“Imagine what the UK economy would look like if we lost our automotive industry,” Smith says. “The stakes are high for the UK.”

Smith expects the UK to compete with other European countries to secure a lithium battery plant in the near future.

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