4 December 2023

Rio Tinto approves new solar farm for Amrun mine

| Matt Nicholls
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Rio Tinto already has a major solar farm located in Weipa.

Rio Tinto has approved a new 12.4MW solar farm and 8.8MVa/2.1MWh of battery storage to provide renewable energy for the Amrun bauxite operations.

The 12.4MW 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 per cent and annual CO2-equivalent emissions by 14,000 tonnes, and will add to the existing 5.6MW of solar and 4MWh 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 Shona Markham, Rio Tinto Weipa operations general manager.

“The Amrun solar farm will be one of three Weipa Operations solar stations, which will together provide 18MW 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.”

Managing director of Aggreko Asia Pacific George Whyte said: “Aggreko is excited to be supporting Rio Tinto on working towards meeting their decarbonisation goals and our own with this project.

“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 gigawatt hours of renewable power annually.

Combined with the existing Weipa renewable power generation network, the solar farms will reduce Weipa operations’ diesel consumption by an estimated 10 million litres per year and lower its annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 28,000 tonnes – the equivalent of taking more than 6000 internal combustion engine passenger cars off the road.

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