Rio Tinto advances decarbonisation with new solar farm and battery storage at Amrun bauxite operations

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Rio Tinto, a leading global mining group, has announced the approval of a significant renewable energy project for its Amrun bauxite operations near Weipa in Queensland, Australia. The project includes a 12.4MW solar farm and 8.8MVa/2.1MWh of battery storage. This initiative is a key part of Rio Tinto’s global decarbonisation strategy, aimed at reducing emissions across its Pacific bauxite, alumina, and aluminium operations.

The new solar farm and battery storage are expected to dramatically reduce Amrun’s reliance on diesel-generated electricity by 37% and cut annual CO2-equivalent emissions by 14,000 tonnes. This addition complements the existing 5.6MW of solar and 4MWh of battery power that has been serving Rio Tinto’s Weipa operations and the local electricity network since 2015.

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Aggreko, a global leader in the supply of temporary power generation and temperature control solutions, has been contracted to build, own, and operate the solar farm. This will supplement Aggreko’s current contract of supplying electricity from an existing diesel power station to the mine operations.

Renewable Milestone: Rio Tinto's Amrun Operations to Receive Major Solar and Battery Power Boost

Renewable Milestone: Rio Tinto’s Amrun Operations to Receive Major Solar and Battery Power Boost

Shona Markham, General Manager of Rio Tinto Weipa Operations, highlighted the importance of this project, stating, “The construction of the Amrun solar farm and battery storage system…is an important milestone for Weipa Operations and will contribute to Rio Tinto’s commitment to reduce operational greenhouse gas emissions.”

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George Whyte, Managing Director of Aggreko Asia Pacific, expressed excitement about supporting Rio Tinto in meeting their decarbonisation goals. “This partnership aligns with our mission to accelerate the energy transition,” he said.

Construction has already commenced on the new solar farm, with an operational target set for early 2025. Once completed, the Amrun solar farm is expected to provide about 21 gigawatt hours of renewable power annually. Combined with the existing Weipa renewable power generation network, the solar farms will significantly reduce diesel consumption by an estimated 10 million litres per year and lower annual greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 28,000 tonnes.

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Rio Tinto’s Weipa Operations, which include three bauxite mines, processing facilities, shiploaders, an export wharf, two ports, power stations, a rail network, and ferry terminals, play a vital role in the region. The Amrun mine, completed in 2018, is part of Rio Tinto’s long-standing commitment to Western Cape York, contributing to job creation and business growth in the area. Operating on traditional lands, Rio Tinto maintains a respectful relationship with the local Traditional Owners through an Indigenous Land Use Agreement lasting over 20 years.

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