11/02/2015 - 13:54

Sandfire goes solar

11/02/2015 - 13:54

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Sandfire Resources, the company that was famously targeted last year in a fossil fuel divestment campaign, is planning a $40 million renewable energy power station at its DeGrussa mine in Western Australia.

Sandfire goes solar
Sandfire managing director Karl Simich.

Sandfire Resources, the company that was famously targeted last year in a fossil fuel divestment campaign, is planning a $40 million renewable energy power station at its DeGrussa mine in Western Australia.

The Australian National University dumped Sandfire and six other mining companies from its investment portfolio after a report it commissioned claimed the miners had acted in a socially irresponsible way.

The copper miner has since launched legal action against the research company ANU used, claiming its report contained factual errors and was deceptive and misleading.

Today, Sandfire announced it had signed an agreement with Germany’s juwi Renewable Energy to build a 10.6 megawatt solar power station.

The new power station will substantially reduce the amount of diesel Sandfire uses for its power requirements and, when constructed, will be the largest integrated off-grid solar power system at a mine in the world.

Managing director Karl Simich said the solar power initiative predated ANU’s divestment and had been in the works since 2013.

In a statement he said the solar power station had the potential to establish the DeGrussa mine as an industry leader in the use of renewable power for mining and processing operations.

“This project is entirely consistent with our ongoing efforts to optimise and enhance our operations at DeGrussa and reduce costs wherever possible,” Mr Simich said.

He said the power station would contribute to Sandfire reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 12,000 tonnes per year and would also potentially reduce its operating costs in the long run.

juwi will own and operate the station, paying for the majority of the project’s $40 million cost, which include a 6MW battery facility.

Sandfire will contribute less than $1 million to its construction.

“We are continuing to explore other options to reduce our energy costs, including using alternatives such as compressed natural gas for gas-fired power generation," Mr Simich said. 

The new solar station will be integrated with DeGrussa’s existing 20MW diesel-fired power station which is owned and operated by Kalgoorlie Power Systems, a subsidiary of Pacific Energy.

Sandfire estimated construction of the station could begin by the second quarter of the 2015 calendar year and be commissioned by the beginning of 2016.

The station is subject to achievement of financial close and meeting conditions precedent by May 1 2015.

 

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