Solar and battery storage to help power W.A. silver mine

A sliver and lead mine in Western Australia’s Gascoyne region will become the latest in that state to source its electricity from a combination of renewable energy and battery storage, in a deal struck with Contract Power.

ASX-listed Galena Mining said last week that Abra Mining, the joint venture company for the Abra Base Metals Project, had inked a deal to power the mine with a hybrid facility combining a 10MW gas generator, 6MW of solar, 2MW of battery energy storage (MWh not specified), and a 900KlLNG storage and regasification facility.

Under the terms of the Power Purchase Agreement, the integrated hybrid microgrid would be built, owned and operated by Contract Power Australia, a subsidiary of Pacific Energy, which in turn is owned by the Queensland government-owned investment vehicle, QIC.

The power generated by the hybrid system would be purchased by Abra Mining for an initial term of 16 years, with the option to extend that period.

Alex Molyneux, the managing director of Galena which owns 77.28% of the Abra Base Metals Project, said that said Abra was pleased to partner with Contract Power on a clean, cost-effective power solution.

“Integrating solar with relatively clean natural gas instead of diesel achieves a marked reduction in Abra’s carbon footprint compared to alternatives considered in the tender process,” he said.

“Pleasingly, the design also offered the most cost-effective solution, in-line with our Feasibility Study estimates.”

For Contract Power, the new PPA marks the latest in a spate of similar projects awarded to the company and its purpose-built remote microgrid business, Hybrid Systems, both of which were acquired by Pacific Energy in 2018.

This includes a 2MW diesel, 1.2MW solar and a 350kWh battery system at an open-cut kaolin clay mine and geological waste repository in WA’s Goldfields-Esperance region, that has proven to be able to power the facility with renewable energy only during daylight hours.

Contract Power is also behind the currently under construction Esperance renewables hub, which combines a 22MW gas power station with two 4.5MW wind turbines, 2MW of battery storage and 4MW of solar. The company has also been flat out working alongside Western Power to install more than 40 solar and battery-based stand-alone power systems across its vast grid.

“We are very pleased to be working with Galena on this important project and look forward to rewarding their confidence by delivering a world-class hybrid power station,” said Contract Power managing director Leon Hodges in a statement last week.

“Contract Power’s combined LNG and renewables integration capability has allowed our design team to maximise solar penetration as high as the economics and technology allows, providing the Abra project with the highest reliability and lowest cost of power on an unsubsidised basis.”

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