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Rio Tinto approves new solar farm and battery storage to power its Amrun bauxite operations on Cape York

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 near Weipa in Queensland, Australia.

The 12.4MW solar farm and battery storage are part of Rio Tinto’s global decarbonization strategy and ongoing efforts to reduce emissions at its Pacific bauxite, alumina and aluminum operations.

They are expected to reduce Amrun’s diesel electricity consumption by 37% 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.

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 liters per year and lower its annual greenhouse gas emissions by about 28,000 tonnes—the equivalent of taking more than 6,000 internal combustion engine passenger cars off the road.

Rio Tinto’s Weipa Operations in Far North Queensland includes three bauxite mines, processing facilities, shiploaders, an export wharf, two ports, power stations, a rail network and ferry terminals. Rio Tinto also provides the municipal services for the town of Weipa.

Amrun, Weipa’s newest mine, was completed in 2018 and will extend the Weipa bauxite operations by decades. The mine is located on traditional land and Rio Tinto operates within the terms of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement Rio Tinto has had with local Traditional Owners for more than 20 years.

Rio Tinto completed commissioning of the $1.9 billion Amrun bauxite mine in 2019. The mine and associated processing and port facilities will replace production from Rio Tinto’s depleting East Weipa mine and increase annual bauxite export capacity by around 10 million tonnes, at a time when higher-grade bauxite is becoming scarcer globally.

Originally known as South of Embley due to its location near the river of the same name on Queensland’s Cape York Peninsula, the mine was renamed Amrun following a request from the Wik-Waya Traditional Owners.


Albert E Short

I can't exactly tease out their total electricity usage from the article, but judging from the green-to-beige ratio of Queensland on Google maps, a spare square kilometer should not be hard to find. The ~18 MW total in the article is well below the ~150 MW one could easily fit in an area of such fine solar resource.

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