BHP searches for renewables to power Pilbara operations


Australia-headquartered mining giant BHP has reportedly begun the process to procure more than 500 MW of wind and solar power backed by battery energy storage before the end of the decade as it works to reduce the use of gas and diesel in its iron ore mining operations in the Pilbara.

The company’s iron ore operations in the Pilbara are on an islanded network with power currently supplied by its 190 MW Yarnima gas-fired power station. The miner also uses about 1,500 megalitres of diesel each year in more than 1,000 pieces of equipment.

BHP last year announced it planned to increase the volume of renewables powering its Western Australian operations and anticipated having up to 200 MW each of wind and solar and 150 MW of battery energy storage capacity installed by 2030.

The Australian Financial Review has now reported that the miner has issued a request for proposal (RFP) for renewables and storage at its Pilbara operations.

“If completed, the procurement process is expected to see hundreds of millions of dollars spent on new wind farms and battery storage systems for the region,” the AFR said.

BHP was contacted for comment but had not responded prior to publication.

The company has stated that it is aiming to reduce its operational emissions by 30% by the end of the decade, based on 2020 levels, and achieve net zero emissions by 2050. BHP has flagged spending about $6 billion (USD 4 billion) to achieve its medium and long-term emissions reduction targets.

The latest development follows BHP’s signing of a power purchase agreement (PPA) that will utilise solar, wind and pumped hydro to provide about 50% of the forecasted electricity demand of its central Queensland coal operations.

BHP has also inked a 70 MW baseload renewable energy contract with Neoen to meet half of the needs of its Olympic Dam mining operations in South Australia, and penned an agreement with developer TransAlta Renewables which has built a new 38 MW solar system and a 10.1 MW/5.4 MWh battery energy storage system to help power BHP’s Nickel West mining operation in WA’s Goldfields region.

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