THE BOURSE WHISPERER: Sandfire Resources (ASX: SFR) has installation of the first solar photovoltaic (PV) panels underway as part of the construction of a 10.6 megawatt (MW) solar power station at the company’s 100 per cent-owned DeGrussa copper mine in Western Australia.
The $40 million project is to become the largest integrated off-grid solar and battery storage facility in Australia and will consist of 34,080 solar PV panels covering a total area of over 20 hectares at a site located immediately adjacent to the DeGrussa underground mine and processing plant.
Site electrical work is well advanced with the installation of underground electrical infrastructure including conduits ready for low-voltage and communication cabling to allow the interconnection of the panels, and to connect the facility to a 6MW lithium-ion battery storage facility and the existing 19MW diesel-fired power station at DeGrussa.
Sandfire expects to have installation of the solar PV modules completed early in the New Year with other items to be installed in the coming months, including a solar inverter to change electric current from DC to AC, transformers and other electrical accessories and control systems.
The company explained the system has been designed with the diesel-fired power station continuing to provide base-load power to the DeGrussa mine with sufficient minimum load to ensure it can respond quickly to meet the power requirements of the process plant and underground mine.
“I have no doubt that the DeGrussa solar power project will attract growing interest both internationally and within the industry as this impressive project commences operations,” Sandfire Resources managing director Karl Simich said in the company’s announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange.
“This is the first time that a major off-grid solar power facility with an integrated battery storage unit has been installed on a remote site in conjunction with an existing diesel-fired power station to service a highly critical operation such as an underground mine and processing plant, where safety and continuity of operations are paramount.
“We always said at the outset that the overriding consideration for this venture would be that, once installed and operating, it would not compromise copper production.
“This is a first for the mining industry, a first for the power generation industry and a first in the rapidly growing field of renewable energy.
“We are all looking forward to its completion and successful commissioning of this state-of-the-art project early next year, and to the positive impact that we believe it will have for all of our key stakeholders.”