Mining company Rio Tinto goes solar

Mining company Rio Tinto goes solar at Weipa

Mining company Rio Tinto builds a

massive solar farm at Weipa


Rio Tintohas commenced construction of a 1.7 megawatt solar power plant at its Weipa Bauxite mine in north Queensland. The global mininggiant’sWeipa bauxite mine has been under the management microscope of late for expansion of mining operations to begin.

Driven by an increase in the global demand for aluminium, of which bauxite is the prime ingredient, Rio Tinto are once again starting to invest in their infrastructure.

“dreaming up new ways to cut costs”

Keeping to the current trend whereby mining companies in Australia are continually dreaming up new ways to cut costs and reduce their energy spend, the Weipa mine solar farm is a big step.

At $4 million,the amount of solar electricity generated will allow Rio Tinto to realise reduced electricity spend at the mine and the hope eventually is that, like the rest of us, soaring electricity prices will be less of a concern.

“$17 million to construct an even bigger solar farm”

Keen to generate even more energy savings, the ‘green aware’ mining company could shell out a whopping $17 million to construct an even bigger solar farm at the mine. This particular north Queensland solar project would be the first large-scale solar farm to be ‘off-the-grid’ in remote mining operations in Australia.

To help with the development of the Rio Tinto Weipa mine solar farm, the Australian government`s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will contribute $3.5 million towards stage one of the expected $23.4 million solar farm.

“local community will benefit from Rio Tinto solar farm”

Output from the farm is expected to be around 6.7 megawatts of power direct to the mine. Additional feeds will be distributed to the port and the local community. Completion of stage one is expected to be some time in January 2015.

The stage two project is rumoured to incorporate a massive battery storage unit. With the introduction of the solar powered system, Rio Tinto are expected to do away with their current reliance on diesel-generated electricity which will result in even more savings.

MPower and First Solar Australia(a photovoltaic systems provider) have partnered to build the off-the-grid solar plant.

“Rio Tinto to provide mining jobs well into the future”

This is yet another example of Australian mining taking advantage of technology to run an efficient mining operation. With declining prices in raw materials and an uncertain global trading system, these types of investments will allow mining companies like Rio Tinto to provide mining jobs well into the future.

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