Solar to help power BHP Nickel West mines
With goal to lower carbon footprint of nickel for Tesla batteries Metal Tech News – August 4, 2021
Last updated 8/17/2021 at 3:03pm
To lower the carbon footprint of the nickel it delivers to lithium-ion battery and electric vehicle manufacturers such as Tesla Inc., BHP Group is having 38.1 megawatts of solar power capacity installed at its Mt. Keith and Leinster mines, part of the global miner's fully integrated mine-to-market Nickel West operation in Western Australia.
This announcement comes just a week after BHP reported that it has cut a deal to supply Tesla with up to 18,000 metric tons of nickel per year from Nickel West starting in 2022.
"Sustainable low-carbon nickel is essential for our battery and electric vehicle customers," said BHP Nickel West, Asset President Eddy Haegel.
To reduce the carbon dioxide emissions at Nickel West, BHP has commissioned TransAlta Corp. to install a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt. Keith, and a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW battery at Leinster.
By displacing power currently supplied by diesel and gas turbine generation, this Northern Goldfields solar project will result in an estimated reduction of 540,000 metric tons of CO2-equivalent over the first 10 years of operation, which is roughly the same as removing up to 23,000 internal combustion engine cars from the road every year.
"This is the first large-scale onsite solar farm and battery that BHP has commissioned at any of its global operations," Haegel added. "It will reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt. Keith and Leinster by 12%, reduce fuel costs and improve the reliability of our electricity supply with the addition of the battery storage system."
While this is the first large solar farm BHP has been directly involved in building, the global miner has been buying renewable energy to power operations in Australia and Chile. This includes a February agreement to acquire roughly 50% of the electricity needs for its Kwinana refinery at Nickel West from Risen Energy's Merredin Solar Farm – the largest in Western Australia.
"This contract, combined with our high-quality nickel deposits, and our integrated value chain further improves our position as one of the lowest carbon nickel miners in the world," Haegel said at the time.
Delivering solar power to the refinery and mines at Nickel West is taking BHP closer to its initial target of lowering emissions from the global facilities it operates by at least 30% by 2030.
TransAlta, a Canada-based power provider that has been delivering electricity to Western Australia gold and nickel operations since 1996, will own and operate the US$53.9 million (A$73 million) Northern Goldfields solar project.
"We are proud to be supporting BHP's emissions reduction targets and sustainability goals through the expansion of our renewable generation footprint into Australia," said TransAlta President and CEO John Kousinioris.
Pending Western Australia government approvals, construction of the Northern Goldfields solar project is slated to begin in the second half of 2022 and take about a year to complete.