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BHP to build solar farms to power mines at Nickel West

July 30, 2021

BHP announced that it will build two solar farms and a battery storage system to help power the Mt Keith and Leinster operations. BHP will work with its power partner in the Goldfields TransAlta for the project. This will help BHP reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12 percent, based on FY2020 levels, BHP said in a statement.

The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will include a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith and a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW battery at Leinster, and will displace power currently supplied by diesel and gas turbine generation.

This will result in an estimated reduction of 540 kt (595,000 st) of CO2e over the first 10 years of operation. This is the equivalent of removing up to 23,000 combustion engine cars from the road every year.

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. Construction will commence in Q2 FY2022, is expected to take 12-14 months, and at its peak will employ over 100 people on site.

BHP Nickel West, Asset President, Eddy Haegel said: “This is the first large-scale onsite solar farm and battery that BHP has commissioned at any of its global operations.

“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will further improve our position as one of the lowest carbon nickel miners in the world. It will reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12 percent, reduce fuel costs and improve the reliability of our electricity supply with the addition of the battery storage system.

“This announcement follows the nickel supply agreement we signed with Tesla last week. Sustainable low carbon nickel is essential for our battery and electric vehicle customers.”

TransAlta Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer, John Kousinioris, said: “We are proud to be supporting BHP’s emissions reduction targets and sustainability goals through the expansion of our renewable generation footprint into Australia.”

The partnership will contribute to BHP’s medium-term target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions from our operated assets by at least 30 per cent from FY2020 levels by FY2030.

The project is subject to final WA state government approvals.
 

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