Rio Tinto to Build Solar Plant in Western Australia to Power Iron Ore Mine

Rio Tinto to Build Solar Plant in Western Australia to Power Iron Ore Mine

Rio Tinto has approved an investment in a solar plant at the Koodaideri mine in Western Australia, as well as a lithium-ion BESS to power mining operations

Rio Tinto Solar Australia

Rio Tinto has approved a $98 million (100 percent basis) investment in a new solar plant at the Koodaideri mine in the Pilbara, Australia, as well as a lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) to help power its entire Pilbara power network. The 34-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic plant is expected to supply all of Koodaideri’s electricity demand during peak solar power generation times and approximately 65 percent of the mine’s average electricity demand.

The plant, Rio Tinto’s first company-owned solar facility, will consist of an estimated 100,000 panels, covering an area of 105 hectares. Construction is expected to begin later this year, subject to government approvals, and is due to be completed in 2021. Complementing it will be a new 12 MWh battery energy storage system in Tom Price that will provide spinning reserve generating capacity to support a stable and reliable network.

The solar plant and battery are estimated to lower annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 90,000 tonnes compared to conventional gas-powered generation. This is the equivalent of taking about 28,000 cars off the road.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive 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 percent reduction in absolute greenhouse gas emissions since 2008.”

The firm is working to define new emissions reduction targets from 2020 as part of our transition to a lower-carbon world.

In October 2019, we had reported that Western Australia’s Pilbara region was set to be home to the first major iron ore mining operation in Australia to be run entirely off renewable energy during the day. On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced an AUD 24.2 million in funding to Alinta Energy Pilbara Finance to develop its Solar-Gas Hybrid project to power the Fortescue Metals Group’s Chichester mining hub.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for