Miner provides shot in the arm for Sun Cable mega project


ASX-listed Tivan said it has signed a letter of intent with Sun Cable subsidiary AAPowerlink Australia Assets to progress discussion for the supply of 200 MW to 300 MW of solar-generated electricity which would be used to power a ‘state-of-the-art’ minerals processing facility to be built at Middle Arm in Darwin.

Sun Cable, which entered voluntary administration in January following an “absence of alignment” among the shareholders, is aiming to develop one of the world’s largest integrated renewable energy generation, storage and transmission projects that includes the supply of up to 800 MW of renewable electricity to Darwin.

The Australia-Asia PowerLink (AAPowerLink) project proposal comprises building up to 20 GW of solar and 42 GWh of energy storage in the NT’s Barkley region along with a 5,000-kilometre transmission network to supply Darwin, Singapore and Asian markets with renewable electricity.

While the future of the AAPowerLink project has been clouded since Sun Cable abruptly entered administration, Perth-based Tivan said its one-year deal with the developer will see it progress commercial and technical discussions towards the potential offtake of up to 300 MW of renewable electricity from the project.

The solar-generated electricity will be used to power a facility to be built at the Middle Arm sustainable development precinct for processing minerals from Tivan’s flagship vanadium, titanium and iron ore project at Mount Peake, being developed about 235 kilometres northwest of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory (NT).

A conceptual view of Tivan’s proposed minerals processing facility.

Image: Tivan

Sun Cable founder and Chief Executive Officer David Griffin said the deal is an important milestone for Sun Cable, Tivan and the Territory.

“The provision of 24/7 dispatchable, renewable electricity can underpin industrial processes, enabling a new wave of green industrial development,” he said.

“Sun Cable is delighted to be establishing a relationship with Tivan and supporting their vision to ensure sustainable development of critical mineral projects in the Northern Territory.”

Under the terms of the deal, Tivan and Sun Cable will work together to develop an indicative renewable energy supply and commercial strategy for the facility. The parties will collaborate to optimise the design, delivery and utilisation of supply and purchase arrangements from AAPowerLink to the processing facility.

The supply of energy is subject to the parties subsequently agreeing and executing a formal power purchase agreement.

Tivan Executive Chairman Grant Wilson said the collaboration with Sun Cable would help put the Territory at the “global forefront of critical minerals processing and the energy transition.”

“As the first-moving public proponent at Middle Arm, we have an important interest in how it is shaped and by partnering with Sun Cable, we are endorsing and facilitating the provision of large-scale renewable energy to the precinct,” he said.

“I am confident that this will enable and inspire like-minded industry proponents to pursue similar sustainable development pathways.”

Meanwhile, Sun Cable administrator FTI Consulting is confident it will complete the sale of the venture by the end of May after multiple investors submitted initial bids for the renewable energy developer which is largely owned by mining magnate Andrew Forrest’s private firm Squadron Energy and technology billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes’ private investment company Grok Ventures.

Both Squadron and Grok are believed to be among those that have submitted initial bids to take control of Sun Cable but FTI said there had been “strong” interest in the venture.

Other potential parties that insiders have suggested might be interested in the asset include Spain’s Iberdrola, Macquarie’s infrastructure arm, Canadian giant Brookfield, and Singapore’s GIC, as well as Australian infrastructure player Quinbrook.

FTI said that it and Moelis, the investment bank running the sale process, were now seeking “to progress a shortlist of bidders through to the submission of binding proposals by end of April 2023” with a view to completing a sale at the end of May.

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