Rio Tinto to build first solar power plant in Western Australia

Rio Tinto has approved a US$98 million investment to build a solar plant and lithium-ion battery storage system which will power its Koodaideri iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The 34MW facility will be comprised of an estimated 100,000 panels and is set to become Rio’s first company-owned solar plant, while the 12MWh battery storage system will support the miner’s entire Pilbara power network.

During peak solar power generation times, the facility will supply all of Koodaideri’s electricity demand, and about 65% of the mine’s average electricity demand when it begins operations in late 2021.

The $2.6 billion Koodaideri mine was approved in November 2018 and will become a new production hub for Rio’s iron ore business in the Pilbara, incorporating a processing plant and a rail line connecting the mine to the existing network.

Rio’s iron ore CEO Chris Salisbury said: “The construction of our first solar plant in the Pilbara is a significant milestone for the business and an important step in reducing our carbon footprint in the region.

“We are investigating additional renewable energy options in the Pilbara, as well as other opportunities to reduce emissions across our entire global portfolio, building on the 43% reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions since 2008.”