Australian mining group Rio Tinto to build 34-MW solar plant coupled with 12-MWh battery

Rio Tinto's Weipa on-site solar facility

Rio Tinto has approved a $98 million investment in a new solar plant at the Koodaideri mine in the Pilbara, Australia, as well as a lithium-ion battery energy storage system to help power its entire Pilbara power network.

The 34-MW solar photovoltaic plant is expected to supply all of Koodaideri’s electricity demand during peak solar power generation times and approximately 65 percent of the mine’s average electricity demand.

The plant, Rio Tinto’s first company-owned solar facility, will consist of an estimated 100,000 panels, covering an area of 105 hectares. Construction is expected to begin later this year, subject to government approvals, and is due to be completed in 2021.

Complementing it will be a new 12-MWh battery energy storage system in Tom Price that will provide reserve generating capacity to support a stable and reliable network.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said that the plant is a milestone for the company. “We are investigating additional renewable energy options in the Pilbara, as well as other opportunities to reduce emissions across our entire global portfolio, building on the 43 percent reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions since 2008,” he added.

The $2.6 billion Koodaideri mine was approved in November last year with construction commencing earlier this year. Production capacity will be 43 million tonnes annually with first production is expected to commence by the end of 2021.

Rio Tinto’s Weipa operation in Queensland sources power from an on-site solar facility. See a time lapse video of the building of that project by playing the video below.

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