Rio Tinto to increase solar power to Weipa bauxite operations

Monday, 04 December, 2023

Rio Tinto to increase solar power to Weipa bauxite operations

Rio Tinto has announced it has approved a new 12.4 MW solar farm and 8.8 MVA/2.1 MWh of battery storage to provide renewable energy for the Amrun bauxite operations near Weipa in Queensland. The company says the solar farm and battery storage are part of Rio Tinto’s global decarbonisation strategy and ongoing efforts to reduce emissions at its Pacific bauxite, alumina and aluminium operations.

They are expected to reduce Amrun’s diesel electricity consumption by 37% and annual CO2-equivalent emissions by 14,000 tonnes, and will add to the existing 5.6 MW of solar and 4 MWh of battery power built for Rio Tinto’s Weipa operations and the local electricity network since 2015.

Aggreko has been contracted to build, own and operate the solar farm to supply renewable electricity to the mine operations, in addition to its current contract to supply electricity generated from an existing diesel power station.

“The construction of the Amrun solar farm and battery storage system, which is located on Wik and Wik-Waya Traditional lands, is an important milestone for Weipa Operations and will contribute to Rio Tinto’s commitment to reduce operational greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rio Tinto Weipa Operations General Manager Shona Markham. “The Amrun solar farm will be one of three Weipa Operations solar stations, which will together provide 18 MW of solar generation capacity to our mines and the Weipa town. This project helps us make inroads towards our ambitions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from our operations.”

“Aggreko is excited to be supporting Rio Tinto on working towards meeting their decarbonisation goals and our own with this project,” said Aggreko Asia Pacific Managing Director George Whyte. “This partnership aligns with our mission to accelerate the energy transition, and as a world leader in the supply of clean energy infrastructure, we are confident that we will successfully deliver reliable and efficient energy for Rio Tinto’s Amrun operations.”

Early works have begun on the new solar farm, which is expected to be operational by early 2025. Once completed, the Amrun solar farm will provide about 21 GWh of renewable power annually.

Rio Tinto’s Weipa Operations in Far North Queensland includes three bauxite mines, processing facilities, shiploaders, an export wharf, two ports, power stations, a rail network and ferry terminals. Rio Tinto also provides the municipal services for the town of Weipa.

Image credit: Rio Tinto.

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