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Nickel West marking decarbonisation targets

1st August 2023

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

     

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PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Diversified miner BHP’s Nickel West division is well on its way to decarbonising, with the Kalgoorlie smelter, the Kwinana refinery and the Kambalda concentrator being 100% fuelled by renewable energy by 2024.

Nickel West asset president Jess Farrell told the WA Mining Club Nickel West currently had one of the lowest production carbon emissions intensity of benchmarked nickel producers globally, but that the division still had big plans to reduce its operational greenhouse gas emissions.

“At Nickel West, our emissions profile across our portfolio is quite different to a lot of other miners in that the majority are from electricity, rather than diesel.  Approximately half of our carbon emissions are from electricity consumption, so reducing Scope 2 emissions has been a high priority for our business,” she said.

“We have been very active in securing renewable energy to power our operations and have already executed large scale renewable energy power purchase agreements (PPAs). This includes 50 MW of power from the Merredin solar farm – the largest solar farm in Western Australia and 75 MW from the Flat Rocks wind farm near Kojonup.

“When fully operational, these two agreements are expected to provide Nickel West’s downstream Southern Operations with a reliable supply of renewable energy over a 24-hour period, covering 100% of the power requirements of the Kalgoorlie smelter, the Kwinana refinery and the Kambalda concentrator by 2024.”

The Merredin solar farm has already meant significant energy cost savings to Nickel West and, from 2024, is expected to reduce emissions from electricity use at the Kwinana refinery by up to half, based on 2020 levels, Farrell said.

Meanwhile, construction on the Flat Rocks wind farm Stage 1 project began in mid-2022, with the installation of the 18 wind turbines now starting. The project is expected to be operational early next year.

“We have an initial 12-year PPA with Enel Green Power for 100% of the energy produced at Flat Rocks, which is expected to help reduce Nickel West’s Scope 2 carbon emissions by around 32%, and overall emissions by 16.5% from our 2020 total. 

“Most importantly, it is expected to generate renewable energy equivalent to the entire current annual electricity consumption at our Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter and our Kambalda Concentrator each year,” said Farrell.

Furthermore, BHP has also partnered with Transalta to build two solar farms in the Northern Goldfields, with 70 000 solar panels across 90 ha and will reduce Nickel West’s Northern Energy System Scope 2 emissions by 12%, which in turn will reduce Nickel West’s total Scope 2 emissions by 5%.

The project includes 38.1 MW of solar energy and a 10.1 MW battery energy storage system, which was energised for the first time this week. Commissioning of the project is underway, and should be completed within the next month.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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