W.A. mines to add solar, batteries, with backing of state government

W.A. Carosue Dam Project. Image: Saracen Mineral Holdings

Another two mining operations in Western Australia’s Goldfields region will install solar power systems and, in one case, battery storage, after grants worth more than $2.6 million were awarded in the first round of the state’s $19 million Clean Energy Future Fund.

The first project, led by Nomadic Energy, was awarded $1 million towards the installation of 5MW of re-deployable solar panels at Saracen Mineral Holdings’ Carosue Dam gold mine, South of Laverton.

For the second project, ResourcesWA was granted $1.6. million towards the installation of 30MW of solar at the Homestead mine site developed by Nortons Goldfields, to power its Paddington and Mungari Mills.

Battery storage will also be installed at both mills, 10MW/10MWh and 5MW/5MWh respectively, to reduce the impact of outages and support Western Power’s local substation.

Western Australia’s mining sector has been blazing a trail in the sector’s shift to renewable energy, with projects like the ground-breaking hybrid solar and battery microgrid built to help power the Granny Smith mine owned by South Africa-based miner Gold Fields.

Another project, an open-cut kaolin clay mine and geological waste repository in Western Australia’s Goldfields-Esperance region, is being powered by renewable energy only during daylight hours, thanks to a solar and battery storage system custom built for the project through a power purchase agreement – and without any subsidies.

In a statement on Tuesday, Western Australia’s Labor McGowan government said the first round of the funding scheme had prioritised projects that would reduce the emissions of significant facilities in regional areas, funding up to 25 per cent of eligible project costs.

Round 2 of the Clean Energy Future Fund, which will open on Monday January 25, with up to $16 million up for grabs, would prioritise projects that cut emissions, created jobs, improved security and reliability of supply, or supported the replacement of diesel use, the government said.

The scheme is also looking to support projects that facilitate the decarbonisation of existing industry, develop new low carbon industries or enhance energy efficiency in manufacturing or the built environment.

“Nomadic Energy and ResourceWA were chosen for the high value they provide, their capacity to reduce emissions, potential for wider adoption, innovation and financial viability,” said W.A. environment minister Stephen Dawson.

“These benefits will only increase further as these technologies are more widely adopted, and will also grow exponentially as the fund continues to support new, innovative clean energy projects.”

State energy minister Bill Johnston said the Clean Energy Future Fund was evidence of the McGowan government’s commitment to supporting innovative, new technologies and opportunities for Western Australia.

“Not only does the fund assist in developing clean energy projects, it has helped create jobs, which is increasingly important for our State’s economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the minister said.

“With over 385 construction and operational jobs expected to be created during the life of the two projects, it’s clear that clean energy industries are an important source of future employment opportunities, particularly in regional WA.”

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