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Rio Tinto Alcan to build Australia’s first renewable energy powered mine

on Thursday, 22 May 2014.

The Weipa bauxite mine, township and port in far north Queensland will be the first mine operation in Australia to adopt renewable energy on a commercial scale, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency reported http://arena.gov.au/media/australias-first-renewable-powered-mine-and-township/

Many of Australia's remote mining operations are fuelled by diesel generators that are expensive to run and subject to fuel price volatility, and the transport of diesel long distances can be costly and subject to unpredictable weather. Meanwhile, with the price of commercial solar systems coming down by about 60-70% over recent years, renewable energy has reached a point where it can compete with the cost of diesel generation in such sites.

The first stage of the project will consist of 1.7MW of PV which will contribute about 20% of the mine's peak daytime load. Due for completion in 2017, the second phase will add another 5MW of PV and storage to enable it to meet 100% of load at certain times during the day. Weipa currently has two diesel plants rated at 36MW.

The project received $3.5 million of funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) under its Regional Australia's Renewables Program (see related news story link), in the hope that it will act as a catalyst to other mining companies to follow suit. CCR can assess the potential for renewable energy for your business, and also advise on the availability of funds through government programs.