Sandfire Resources Solar and Storage

The CEFC has committed up to $15 million towards a $40 million solar and battery storage project at the Sandfire Resources DeGrussa copper mine in Western Australia. The project has also received funding support of $20.9 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Project Scope

The 10.6MW solar plant, with 6MW of battery storage, is one of the first and largest solar and battery projects at an Australian mine.

The plant will consist of 34,080 solar PV panels over a 20 hectare site, and is expected to be operational by early 2016. It will provide some 40 per cent of the mine’s daytime electricity requirements, offsetting approximately 5 million litres of diesel fuel per annum.

The 10.6MW solar plant is to be fully integrated with an existing diesel-fired power station.

Savings on diesel fuel consumption are expected to grow with extension of the life of the mine and likely increases in diesel prices. The diesel-fired power station, owned and operated by Pacific Energy subsidiary Kalgoorlie Power Systems, will continue to provide baseload power to the mine.

Looking to the future

Remote area mines represent a significant and growing opportunity for solar and battery storage to provide a complementary power source.

Energy costs can account for around 30 per cent of expenditure for remote area and off-grid miners, which rely on diesel- fired generators and face the additional burden of transport costs for fuel.

Rising production costs, global competition and the drive to improve overall environmental performance are motivating companies to look at how renewables can boost their business operations.

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 a world first – establishing DeGrussa as a reference site for the use of off-grid solar and battery storage technology in the mining industry.” Sandfire Managing Director, Karl Simich