Rio Tinto plans to build its first solar plant at the Koodaideri iron ore project in the Pilbara to improve the company’s emission reduction targets.
The $98 million investment will also supply the Tom Price operation with a new battery energy storage system, designed to generate electricity to the entire Pilbara power network.
Rio Tinto’s carbon dioxide emissions are expected to drop by an estimated 90,000 tonnes when the Koodaideri solar plant is introduced.
The 34-megawatt solar plant will provide 65 per cent of Koodaideri’s average electricity demand.
“The construction of our first solar plant in the Pilbara is a significant milestone for the business and an important step in reducing our carbon footprint in the region,” Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said.
“We are investigating additional renewable energy options in the Pilbara, as well as other opportunities to reduce emissions across our entire global portfolio, building on the 43 per cent reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions since 2008.”
Rio Tinto aims to complete construction of the plant, which will include approximately 100,000 solar panels by 2021.
Koodaideri is being developed as one of the company’s most advanced operations across the world.
The $2.6 billion project will yield a production capacity of 43 million tonnes of iron ore annually.
Rio Tinto most recently contracted Scott Technology to build an automated mine laboratory for Koodaideri.
The laboratory, which specialises in robotic sample preparation and analysis, is expected to be the safest of its kind.
Koodaideri is forecast to begin operation by the end of 2021.