15/07/2015 - 15:23

More miners considering solar: juwi

15/07/2015 - 15:23

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As many as 20 Western Australian mining companies are considering adopting solar power, according to the developer of a $40 million solar project at Sandfire Resources’ DeGrussa copper mine.

More miners considering solar: juwi
DeGrussa mine.

As many as 20 Western Australian mining companies are considering adopting solar power, according to the developer of a $40 million solar project at Sandfire Resources’ DeGrussa copper mine.

juwi managing director Andrew Drager, whose German company is responsible for setting in motion the planned 10.6 megawatt solar plant plus up to six megawatts of battery storage at the DeGrussa mine, said between 10 and 20 WA miners juwi had spoken to were interested in installing renewable energy technology at their sites.

Addressing an Australian Institute of Energy event today in Perth, Mr Drager said he had spoken to about 150 miners across Australia, including 50 in WA.

Of those miners, he said, those to show the most interest were using diesel, not gas, to power their sites, because the economic case for switching to solar from diesel was greater.

Another major component prompting considering solar was mine life, Mr Drager said, with mines confident of at least another six years showing more interest, although some with greenfield developments had also demonstrated an interest.

Mr Drager said interested WA miners were producing a range of commodities, excluding iron ore, which has taken a huge hit in commodity prices and is mostly produced on sites powered by gas.

Mr Drager also provided more detail about the $15 million finance DeGrussa’s solar project secured from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the $20.9 million finance deal also announced today by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

The project, which will offset about 50 million litres of diesel fuel per year (and abate more than 12,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases annually) will not start paying back its Arena grant to taxpayers until six years have past.

Mr Drager said Arena had taken a long-term view of providing assistance to the solar and battery storage project, which is Australia’s largest one of its type to date.

“Most of (Arena’s) projects are pure grants. We said we don’t really need a grant, we just need someone who can take mine life risk, we’ve got a mine here but they’re not going to sign a take or pay for 20 years, they might suspect their mine’s going to go beyond six, but they’re not going to commit to it. So we did a mechanism where we said if it goes beyond that point in time then we’ll start paying Arena,” he said.

“We expect in year eight or nine the taxpayer is better off.” 

Mr Drager said Arena was motivated to prompt more renewable projects in the resources industry, eventually without subsidies.

“With Sandfire for example, (Arena) said if this project leads to one more project, from a tax (payer’s) perspective it’s a great achievement,” he said.

“It’s more about showing how this project helps the industry rather than how this particular project is reducing Sandfire’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

For more information on WA miners considering solar check out Business News' recent report on WA vanadium explorers hoping to leverage their planned production with battery storage producers to cut energy costs on site 

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