South32 to develop solar farm at Cannington mine

Cannington. Image: South32.

South32 plans to use solar energy to power key infrastructure at its Cannington lead-silver-zinc operation in Queensland.

The miner has launched a remote off-grid renewable energy project to help it reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the site.

A six-hectare, 3MW solar farm will be developed to generate electricity for the mine’s accommodation village and airport, with surplus power to support the mining and processing operations.

Once developed, it will be the second largest solar installation at a remote, off-grid mining operation in Australia and the first to be integrated into a gas-fired power station.

Sandfire Resources commissioned a $40 million solar project at the DeGrussa copper-gold mine in Western Australia in June 2016. The DeGrussa solar operation has a 10MW capacity comprising 34,080 solar PV panels over 20 hectares at the site.

Energy Developments and SunSHIFT will deliver the solar PV farm for South32, which expects the facility to supply clean and reliable renewable energy while contributing 4000–6000t of greenhouse gas abatement a year.

South32 chief sustainability officer Rowena Smith said renewable costs have reduced significantly.

“So this is in line with our commitment to the environment and it also makes great economic sense,” Smith said.

“It’s an exciting time in the industry when renewable energy technology and innovation is applied to deliver power to our world-class remote mining operations.”

South32 plans to offset the cost to install and operate the solar farm with lower fuel costs, making the project an economically viable solution.