Rio Tinto builds first solar plant in Western Australia

Rio Tinto (NYSE: RIO; LSE: RIO) will build a US$98 million solar plant to power its Koodaideri iron ore mine in Western Australia, about 35 km northwest of the company’s Yandicoogina mine.

The 34 megawatt solar photovoltaic plant will supply all of the mine’s electricity demand during peak solar power generation times and about 65% of the mine’s average electricity demand.

Rio Tinto will start building the solar plant at Koodaideri later this year and finish it in 2021.

Earlier this year, Rio Tinto started construction of the US$2.6 billion Koodaideri mine, 110 km from the town of Newman. The mine is expected to produce 43 million tonnes of iron ore a year by the end of 2021.

The mining giant also plans to build a 12 megawatt hour (MWh) lithium-ion battery energy storage system in the mining town of Tom Price to help power its entire Pilbara power network.

The solar plant and battery energy storage system will trim carbon dioxide emissions by about 90,000 tonnes a year compared to conventional gas-powered generation, Rio Tinto says, estimating that it’s the equivalent of removing about 28,000 cars off the road.

Chris Salisbury, chief executive of the company’s iron ore division, said Rio Tinto is “investigating additional renewable energy options in the Pilbara, as well as other opportunities to reduce emissions across our entire global portfolio, building on our 43% reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions since 2008.”


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