PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The first solar panels at mining major BHP’s Leinster nickel operations, in the Northern Goldfields, are being installed.
The Northern Goldfields solar project, to be constructed and owned by one of BHP Nickel West’s renewable energy partners, TransAlta, includes a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith nickel operation and a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW battery at Leinster nickel operation, which will be integrated into TransAlta’s Northern Goldfields remote power grid.
The project, which will replace power currently supplied by diesel and gas, will help BHP Nickel West reduce Scope 2 greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions at its Mt Keith and Leinster operations by 12%, resulting in an estimated reduction of 54 000 t/y carbon dioxide-equivalent.
By the end of 2022, over 20 000 solar panels will be installed at this site alone, helping to power BHP Nickel West’s mining and concentrating operations at Leinster, BHP said on Tuesday.
The construction phase of the solar project has created more than 100 direct and indirect jobs in the Goldfields and Perth regions and is expected to produce its first solar power by the end of 2022.
BHP Nickel West asset president Jessica Farrell said BHP was meeting its commitment to deliver sustainable low carbon nickel to its customers, a product that is in high demand to power batteries and electric vehicles.
“The Northern Goldfields solar project is BHP’s first off-grid large-scale renewable energy project across our global operations and, significantly, will remove the equivalent of up to 23 000 combustion engine cars from the road every year, supporting our GHG reduction targets,” Farrell said.
TransAlta is also working with BHP Nickel West to identify potential wind sites for a 40 MW to 50 MW wind farm, which would connect to TransAlta’s northern grid and reduce Scope 2 GHG emissions at BHP’s Mt Keith and Leinster operations.
Adding wind will increase renewable energy supply to support BHP’s growth and further each company’s sustainability goals, said Farrell.