BHP plans to install two solar farms and a battery storage system to power the Mt Keith and Leinster mines at its Nickel West operations in Western Australia.
The clean energy sources are expected to cut emissions from electricity at the two mines by 12 per cent based on its 2020 financial year levels.
The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will include a 27.4-megawatt solar farm at Mt Keith, and a 10.7-megawatt solar farm and 10.1-megawatt battery at Leinster to reduce diesel and gas power.
According to BHP Nickel West asset president Eddy Haegel, the project marks the first on-site solar farm and battery at any of its global operations.
“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will further improve our position as one of the lowest carbon nickel miners in the world,” Haegel said.
“It will reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12 per cent, reduce fuel costs and improve the reliability of our electricity supply with the addition of the battery storage system.
“This announcement follows the nickel supply agreement we signed with Tesla last week. Sustainable low-carbon nickel is essential for our battery and electric vehicle customers.”
BHP and its power partner Goldfields TransAlta will build the solar and battery energy solutions with construction to commence later this year.
The solar farms and battery will be built, owned and operated by TransAlta as part of its power purchase agreement extension with BHP from October 2020.
BHP stated construction will take 12-14 months to complete and will employ more than 100 people on site.
A 540,000-tonne reduction in carbon emissions is expected within the first 10 years of operation from the solar farms and battery, equivalent to removing 23,000 combustion engine cars from the road each year.
TransAlta Corporation president and chief executive officer John Kousinioris welcomed the partnership.
“We are proud to be supporting BHP’s emissions reduction targets and sustainability goals through the expansion of our renewable generation footprint into Australia,” Kousinioris said.
The project will advance BHP’s scope 1 and 2 emissions reduction targets and is subject to final Western Australia state government approvals.