Gold Fields is set to make the Agnew gold mine in the northern Goldfields of Western Australia the first Australian mine to be powered by a wind, solar, battery and gas microgrid.
The company will receive $13.5 million in funding from the Australian Government and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
Construction is now under way for the development of a high penetration renewable microgrid, which will consist of five wind turbines delivering an 18-megawatt windfarm.
It will also deliver a 10,000 panel four-megawatt solar farm and a 13 megawatt/ four megawatt an hour battery energy storage system.
This will be underpinned with a 16-megawatt gas engine power station.
It marks the first time wind generation has been part of a large hybrid microgrid in the mining sector in Australia.
The renewable energy microgrid is expected to provide 55 to 60 per cent of the energy requirements with the potential to meet almost all energy requirements at certain times.
As part of Gold Fields’ environmental focus, it will also adopt innovative operational practises such as dynamic load shedding, renewable resource forecasting and IPP-controlled load management to maximise renewable energy use.
Distributed energy producer, EDL, will design, construct, own and operate the microgrid to power the Agnew mine in two stages, under a 10-year agreement with Gold Fields.
The first stage involves a new off-grid power station incorporating gas, diesel generation and solar, which is due to be completed in mid-2019. The second stage including the wind, battery and microgrid system recently started construction and will be completed in 2020.
ARENA chief executive officer Darren Miller said the project marked a growing shift in thinking around powering mine sites.
“The project Gold Fields is undertaking will provide a blueprint for other companies to deploy similar off-grid energy solutions and demonstrate a pathway for commercialisation, helping to decarbonise the mining and resources sector,” he said.
“We’re excited to see more mining companies taking up renewable options and Gold Fields’ project comprising solar, wind and battery is helping to position into a more reliable and sustainable energy supply to call upon for the life of the mine.”
Gold Fields Australia executive vice-president Stuart Mathews said the project reflected the company’s focus on renewable solutions.
“The Agnew hybrid microgrid project reflects the company’s strategic objective to strengthen energy security, optimise energy costs and reduce its carbon footprint through innovation and the adoption of new technologies,” he said.