The Sandfire Resources, Western Australia DeGrussa Copper-Gold mine is gearing up for full-production of 1.5 million tonnes expected per year with construction of its $40 million dollar solar array system beginning this month, August. The system is expected to be completed by early next year and once finished will deliver a significant amount of the mine’s power.
Juwi, the German renewable energy heavyweight is building and running the project with funding received from the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Company and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to buy power for the next 6 years or more. If Sandfire continue to operate the mine beyond that date then a new agreement may be negotiated.
If everything goes to plan, the DeGrussa mine will become the largest operating mine in Western Australia and the solar array system will be the biggest integrated off-grid solar and battery storage facility in the country. It will consist of 34,080 solar panels spread across 20 hectares.
2 geologists, John Evans and Mary Hawke uncovered gold deposits at site 4 years ago and the mine has progressed lightning fast since their initial discovery.
12,000 tonnes of carbon emissions will be eliminated from the mining operations every single day.
“At same time, it will reduce our carbon footprint, make an important contribution towards achieving improved environmental outcomes and potentially help promote the use of renewable energy in the Australian mining industry,” says Mr Karl Simich, Managing Director of Sandfire.
Sandfire’s current diesel station will save up to 20% of its diesel spend when the solar array system is up and running. It will be joined with the 6MW of short-term battery storage and integrated with the current base load 19MW diesel fired, power station.
If the mine continues to operate beyond the 6 year projected date then Mr Simich projects the addition of the solar array system will enable Sandfire to realise large savings (after capital costs are repaid throughout the first 6 years).
“There are very few mining projects anywhere in the world today which can lay claim to having moved from discovery drill-hole to first sale in the space of just three years. When the average length of time required to develop new resource projects is now 7-8 years, this is a truly remarkable achievement which has set new benchmarks for the mining industry…,” observes Sandfire’s CEO, Derek La Ferla.