PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Construction of a 10.6 MW solar power station and the DeGrussa copper mine, in Western Australia, was expected to start this month, owner Sandifre Resources reported on Wednesday. Formal approval for the A$40-million project, which would be the largest integrated off-grid solar and battery storage facility in Australia, followed the establishment of an extensive international consortium to finance, develop, operate and own the facility. While construction was expected to start this month, the facility would be fully operational by 2016. The project comprises a 10.6 MW solar array using 34 080 solar panels and covers some 20 ha of land. The facility would use single-axis tracking technology, combined with a 6 MW short-term battery storage and would be located near the site of the current DeGrussa underground mine. The project would also include a 1.5-million tonne a year concentrator. The solar power station would be fully integrated with the existing 19 MW diesel fired power station at DeGrussa, which is owned and operated by Kalgoorlie Power Systems. Once completed, the facility would provide peak load power to the mining operation. Sandfire has now executed a final power purchase agreement (PPA) with juwi Renewalble Energy, which would develop and operate the facility. Under this agreement, Sandfire would purchase the solar power generated at a fixed rate which would be lower than the historical cost of the diesel-generated power. The project was expected to achieve savings in the consumption of diesel fuel and would deliver a significant environmental benefit, reducing its CO2 emissions by an estimated 12 000 t/y. “We identified some time ago that solar power presented an exciting opportunity for us to participate in a low-risk renewable energy initiative at DeGrussa, and we have no doubt that this project has the potential to be an Australian and possibly world first, establishing the DeGrussa as a reference site for the use of off-grid solar and battery storage technology in the mining industry,” said Sandfire MD Karl Simich.
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