PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Plans to convert the defunct Kidston gold mine, in North Queensland, into a power generating hub have been boosted with state Development and Natural Resources and Mines Minister Anthony Lynham assigning it 'prescribed project' status.
ASX-listed Genex Power would spend about A$580-million to install a 150 MW solar power generation farm, a 330 MW pumped storage hydroelectric scheme, which would use the former mine pits and their stored water, and a 185 km transmission line.
The design of the hydro project proposed for water to be released from one of the former mine pits into the other through reversible turbines. This was similar to Wivenhoe power station at Lake Wivenhoe, 90 km north-west of Brisbane, and the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme, in New South Wales.
During off-peak power consumption periods, the turbines would function as pumps and pump the water back into the upper reservoir to repeat the cycle.
Lynham said the project was a first in terms of co-locating large-scale solar with large-scale energy storage.
“And it’s recycling the infrastructure of the former Kidston gold mine, which closed in 2001; a world first: using a disused mine site for hydroelectric power generation,” he said.
Genex MD Michael Addison said on Thursday that upon successful completion, the power project would support the state government’s policy of generating 50% of Queensland’s electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030, and would generate up to 500 jobs during construction.
Construction on the solar farm would start in the final quarter of 2016, while the hydroelectric project and transmission line construction would start in 2017.