Australian copper mine adds solar power

sandfire resources degrussa goes solar

The DeGrussa Copper Mine in Western Australia is building the largest off-grid solar array in the country, a 10.6MW power station with an up front cost of $1 million.

The mine owner, Sandfire Resources (ASX:FSR) announced the power deal on Tuesday with juwi Renewable Energy Pty, which will finance, build and operate the $40 million facility.

DeGrussa, which is located 900km north of Perth, is a volcanic-hosted, massive-sulfide copper deposit with additional occurrences of gold and silver. The mine is an open-pit and underground operation.

Sandfire CEO, Karl Simich, touted the benefits of the new power project.

“It is a very manageable project which, importantly, will not impact on the efficiency or safety of our existing operations, while allowing Sandfire to make a solid contribution to the broader challenge of reducing CO2 emissions and potentially reducing our operating costs in the long run,” Mr Simich continued.

“It has the capacity to significantly reduce our medium and long-term power costs, especially with further extensions of the mine life of the DeGrussa Project.”

The solar power plant will operate in tandem with the existing diesel station:

The proposed solar power station will utilise a 10.6MW solar array comprising 34,080 solar photovoltaic panels that track the sun and a 6MW battery. It will be constructed on 20 hectares of land near the site of the current underground mine and 1.5Mtpa Concentrator. When constructed, it will be one of the largest integrated off-grid solar power systems to be used in the mining industry anywhere in the world.

The solar power station will be fully integrated with the existing 20MW diesel-fired power station at DeGrussa, which is owned and operated by Kalgoorlie Power Systems (a subsidiary of Pacific Energy, ASX: PEA) under an agreement with KPS. This agreement will be structured to maximise the consumption of lower cost solar power and therefore reduce reliance on diesel. KPS has provided great support and cooperation for the project.

This integrated system will be designed such that the diesel power station continues to provide base-load power to the DeGrussa mine with sufficient minimum load to ensure it can respond quickly to meet the power requirements of the process plant and underground mine. The project is expected to achieve savings in the consumption of diesel fuel and will deliver a significant environmental benefit for the DeGrussa Copper Mine, reducing its CO2 emissions by an estimated 12,000 tonnes per year.

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