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BHP’s Nickel West to be fully powered by renewables

Nickel West headquarters. (Image courtesy of BHP.)

BHP (ASX, LON, NYSE: BHP) has secured enough renewable energy to cover 100% of the power requirements of three of its major nickel operations in Western Australia, following the signing of a new agreement with Italy’s Enel Green Power.

The 12-year power purchase agreement (PPA) will facilitate stage one construction of Enel’s A$200 million ($151 million) Flat Rocks wind farm near the town of Kojonup, creating 120 construction jobs and ten permanent jobs thereafter.

The new wind farm will comprise the 18 tallest wind turbines in Western Australia at a tip height of 200 meters and is expected to produce 315 GWh a year. That’s the equivalent of all the power requirements of Nickel West’s Kalgoorlie smelter and concentrator from 2024.

“We are taking great strides in making our operations more sustainable and strengthening BHP’s position as a nickel supplier of choice to global customers,” BHP Nickel West president Jessica Farrell said in the statement.

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 world’s no. 1 miner is also aiming to eliminate the use of water from aquifers in Chile by 2030. 

At home, BHP inked a deal in 2020 to support the development of new solar and wind farms in Queensland. 

Cutting emissions

The Melbourne, Australia-based giant signed a pact last year to buy up to half the power needs of its Nickel West refinery in Kwinana from a Risen Energy-owned solar farm in Western Australia. It also has a purchase pact with the Northern Goldfields solar project in the state.

The three power deals combined would reduce Nickel West’s total greenhouse gas emissions from its energy supply, so-called Scope 2 emissions, by nearly 60% from 2020 levels starting in 2024, based on forecast demand.

BHP also 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.

The solar farms will also help BHP produce sustainable low-carbon nickel used in electric-vehicle (EV) batteries, most of which will be sent to EV giant Tesla as part of a supply agreement the companies inked in July last year.