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BHP to build solar farms at Nickel West

Nickel West headquarters. (Image courtesy of BHP.)

BHP (ASX, LON, NYSE: BHP) plans to build two solar farms and a battery storage system in partnership with Canada’s TransAlta Renewables to power the Mt. Keith and Leinster nickel mines, part of its Nickel West complex in Western Australia. 

The world’s no. 1 miner said the project will help cut its carbon emissions by 12% compared with 2020 levels at the two operations, which currently obtain their power from diesel and gas turbines. 

The solar farms will also help produce sustainable low-carbon nickel used in electric-vehicle (EV) batteries, BHP said, for which the company signed a supply agreement with EV giant Tesla

The solar farms will contribute to BHP’s medium-term target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030

BHP commissioned the solar farms and battery to be built, owned, and operated by TransAlta as part of the power purchase agreement (PPA) extension signed in October 2020.  

The proposed installations will contribute to the miner’s medium-term target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions from its assets by at least 30% from 2020 levels by 2030, it said. 

Construction is set to begin in the second quarter of 2022 and would take 12 to 14 months to complete. 

“This is the first large-scale onsite solar farm and battery that BHP has commissioned at any of its global operations,” BHP Nickel West president, Eddy Haegel, said in a media statement. 

Embracing renewables

BHP has been steadily shifting its power sources from fossil fuels to green energy. It already has four power agreements in Chile aimed at running its operations the country, including the Spence plant, and Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine, entirely on renewable power

The Melbourne, Australia-based giant is also aiming to eliminate the use of water from aquifers in Chile by 2030. 

At home, BHP inked a deal last September to support the development of new solar and wind farms in Queensland. 

The miner, which runs nine metallurgical coal operations in the Bowen Basin through its BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) and BHP Mitsui Coal (BMC), said that move would help it cut its indirect emissions in Australia by 20% over five years.