Tag Archives: mine power

Pilbara Minerals enlists Contract Power Australia for Pilgangoora solar power plans

Pilbara Minerals Limited has announced a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between its wholly owned subsidiary, Pilgangoora Operations Pty Ltd, and Contract Power Australia that could see a 6 MW solar array built at the Pilgangoora lithium project in Western Australia.

The solar array is, the company says, an important demonstration of its commitment to implementing environmentally friendly power solutions, as a part of its pledge to transition to net-zero emissions (scope 1 and 2) in the decade commencing 2040.

Pilbara Minerals said it looks forward to continuing its working relationship with Contract Power and the broader Pacific Energy Group, which began in 2018 when the first baseload power station was installed at Pilgangoora. The PPA involves a 15-year contract to construct, operate and maintain a 6 MW solar array, which is estimated to displace 3.8 million litres/y of diesel fuel, saving an estimated 9,900 t of CO2/y over the contract period.

“A key factor in awarding this exciting new renewable energy project to Contract Power was their established track record and ability to design and safely deliver turnkey energy projects,” the company added.

It is anticipated that procurement for the project will commence imminently with commissioning expected in late July 2022, and commercial operation from the end of August 2022. The design facilitates the future expansion of solar capacity and potential inclusion of battery storage at Pilgangoora, as Pilbara Minerals creates further efficiencies around its power supply and storage solutions at Pilgangoora, it said.

The installation of the first phase of the solar farm is just one part of the initial rationalisation of power assets at Pilgangoora, as the company further integrates the Ngungaju Operation. A local power network will be created to join the Ngungaju and Pilgan Plants, and the Carlindi camp facilities thereby creating further efficiencies, Pilbara Minerals explained.

Pilbara Minerals’ longer-term objectives include integration with other northern Pilbara power and/or gas and renewables sources with a view to creating further efficiency gains on the path to net-zero carbon.

Northern Star and Nomadic Energy boost solar power capacity at Carosue Dam

Northern Star Resources has recently worked with Nomadic Energy to commission an additional 3.3 MW of solar power at its Carosue Dam gold operations in Western Australia.

Nomadic worked with the Carosue team to install and commission the solar farm over a six-week period using pre-fabricated mobile arrays, pre-made DC harnesses and modular inverter stands.

The solar project has a DC capacity of 3.32 MW, which was made up of 8,100 410 W panels on 90 pre-fabricated mobile arrays. The maximum AC output of the farm is 2.75 MW AC, which, in combination with the original solar farm, brings the total site solar penetration to 3.5 MW AC.

Northern Star says the project is planned to offset an additional circa-3,548 t/y of CO2.

Small modular reactors could offer ‘game changing’ power solution in mining, report says

A Minerals Council of Australia-backed report looking into the potential use of small modular reactors (SMRs) in Australia argues they might provide realistic options for decarbonising large regional settlements and off-grid mining operations.

The report, titled ‘Small modular reactors in the Australian context’, is authored by Dr Ben Heard, a Senior Consultant in the Engineering and Asset Management team of Frazer-Nash Consultancy.

Dr Heard thinks SMRs have a role to play in replacing fossil fuel capacity in Australia’s existing grids, but also offer a decarbonised power alternative at off-grid mine sites.

SMRs are power generators of typically 300 MWe or less that use nuclear fission to provide clean, fully reliable heat and power, on-grid or off-grid. The construction time and capital costs associated with them are considerably less than large-scale nuclear reactors or equivalent energy production methods, according to the report. They are also among the safest forms of energy production, coming with passing cooling systems, fewer mechanical parts requiring maintenance and auto fail safe, Dr Heard said.

“Factory-built and easily transportable, SMRs can be scaled to meet energy demand,” Dr Heard said. “Increasing capacity is as simple as adding another module.”

Some SMRs will also use fuel more efficiently than current reactors, producing less waste, according to Dr Heard, who said “advanced fuels” will be easier to recycle for even greater energy production.

On SMRs potential in mining, Dr Heard said: “Being potentially water free and offering decades of uninterrupted power, some of the earliest and most logical deployments of nuclear power in Australia might actually be away from our major transmission networks. Where operations are more speculative, hybrid power systems of diesel fuel, solar and batteries are likely to remain solutions of choice.

“However, for establishing or repowering remote operations away from fossil fuel consumption and with exceptional reliability, the ability to bring megawatt decades of reliable power all the way to where it is needed is a potentially game-changing technology solution.”

An overseas example of this comes from KGHM, the Poland-based copper and silver miner, which recently signed a joint commitment with NuScale Power and PBE Molecule to develop and implement SMR technology to replace its existing coal-based energy sources.

Dr Heard concluded: “In summary, SMR technology has several potentially sensible uses in Australia’s energy transition that are worthy of close consideration – joining renewable technologies to provide an incremental transition from retiring coal and gas assets; as an option for large, established settlements, and for smaller and remote off-grid settlements and operations.

“On a technical basis, their placement is relatively unconstrained compared with alternative generating options and potentially advantageous in taking advantage of existing infrastructure and skilled workforces.

“Assuming a future legislative and regulatory environment that permits the use of this technology, actual siting will benefit from best practice, consent-based siting processes.”

Ora Banda benefits from Aggreko virtual LNG pipeline at Davyhurst gold mine

In what is a world-first for global energy provider Aggreko, the company has introduced its latest high efficiency gas engines at Ora Banda Mining’s Davyhurst gold mine in Western Australia.

The power station, which uses a virtual pipeline of gas trucked over 650 km, is expected to slash the mine’s carbon emissions by 25,000 t during the next five years, Aggreko says.

A virtual gas pipeline is a substitute for a physical pipeline whereby gas that would typically be conveyed through a conventional gas pipeline is instead transported as liquified natural gas (LNG) or compressed natural gas to the point of use by sea, road, rail or through a combination of one or more of these transport modes.

Aggreko Australia Pacific Managing Director, George Whyte, said the LNG station project at Davyhurst was another step in the company’s mission to help miners’ get closer to their net zero emission targets.

“The Davyhurst gas power station is a great example of how a mine which previously operated on diesel wanted to operate on cleaner fuel and we were able to switch from diesel to gas,” Whyte said.

“Creating a virtual pipeline application is a way to switch from diesel to a cleaner fuel source and reduce carbon immediately without requiring any capital outlay or a physical gas pipeline.

“The result at Davyhurst is a gas power station comprising five LNG-generating sets and two diesel generating sets for a combined modular power output of 8.2 MW. Aggreko’s gas-fired power station will enable Ora Banda Mining to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 25,000 t during the initial five years of operation.”

He added: “This project demonstrates great innovation, uses a virtual gas pipeline and is a world-first for us using the high-speed reciprocating gas engines in our power generators. The power station is highly efficient, scalable and very suitable for transient loads and for the introduction of solar at a later stage.”

Whyte said Aggreko’s contract to supply the mine with power saved the junior miner on large capital expenditure and allowed miners to focus on their core skill of mining.

“Of appeal to miners is being able to take on flexible contracts with no capital outlay,” he said. “In addition, Aggreko upscales the technology, and the level of power is scalable so it can evolve with the mine.

“At Aggreko, we will reduce the amount of fossil diesel fuel used in customer solutions by at least 50% by 2030 and become a net-zero business across all services we provide by 2050. We are continuing to innovate and work with miners to reduce carbon by providing them with cleaner, scalable and modular energy as they work toward their net-zero targets.”

Ora Branda Mining Managing Director, David Quinlivan, said mining operations started on its large land holding in Western Australia in 2019 and reprocessing started again in January 2021.

“As part of the capital works program, we needed to re-establish a power station at Davyhurst and we worked with Aggreko and EVOL LNG to build a natural gas-powered station to power all of the site,” Quinlivan said.

“Initially, power was supplied to the site via an overhead line from Kalgoorlie. It is now trucked 650 km to site where it is used to power the gas generators. The power station developed for the site now supplies power to the processing plant, to the administration complex, our exploration and core processing facilities, the main mine accommodation plant, and out to the underground mining offices. It also powers our primary communications facilities.

“Working with Aggreko has resulted in a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions for our company.”

247Solar and STAG-Tech to collaborate on round-the-clock clean power solutions

247Solar Inc and STAG-Tech have announced a collaboration agreement to combine STAG-Tech’s innovative compact wind turbines with 247Solar’s HeatStorE™ long-duration thermal battery to provide turnkey, round-the-clock clean power solutions for a wide range of off-grid applications such as mine sites.

STAG-Tech’s turbines capture the fastest wind speeds at significantly lower cost than conventional large turbines, according to the company. Packed into a 40 ft (12.1 m) shipping container, STAG-Tech’s turbines can be transported to all but the most remote locations via standard freight truck. Minimal concrete foundations make installation fast and affordable, with the tilt-up turbines able to be raised in under an hour, lowered again for storm protection, and easily relocated, preventing stranded assets, STAG-Tech added.

247Solar’s HeatStorE operates almost like an electrochemical battery but has significant advantages at longer durations, according to the company. Electric resistance coils use electricity from wind or photovoltaic (PV) installations to heat inexpensive silica sand. Energy is thereby stored as ultra-high temperature heat (up to 1,000℃) for up to 20 hours at a fraction of the cost of batteries. When needed, a specialised turbine reconverts the heat to electricity.

“Uniquely, 247Solar’s innovative turbine can do this without combustion, as atmospheric-pressure air is passed through the thermal storage and heated to sufficient temperature to drive the turbine and generate electricity without burning fuel,” the company said.

By adding an external combustor, the battery can produce fully dispatchable backup power 24/7 hours a day, 365 days a year by also burning a variety of fuels, including hydrogen. This enables customers to replace traditional diesel gensets at remote locations and realise 24/7 highly reliable operation with increased renewables penetration, significant fuel savings and dramatically lower lifetime operating costs, 247Solar said.

“Together, the two systems provide an excellent complement to solar PV, enabling customers to reduce their reliance on costly electrochemical batteries and diesel gensets, thereby drastically reducing their Levelised Cost of Energy,” the companies said.

Sean Zamick, STAG-Tech CEO, said: “We are very pleased to be working with 247Solar, a fellow distributed energy innovator. Our first planned collaboration will be the first of many exciting projects to help reduce electricity costs, greenhouse gas emissions and improve the reliability of C&I microgrids around the world.”

Bruce Anderson, CEO of 247Solar, said: “STAG-Tech shares our goal of producing low-cost, factory-built emissions-free energy solutions that are scalable, easy to install and inexpensive to maintain. We look forward to working with them at mines, industrial sites and rural electrification projects throughout the world.”

LAVO, Ampcontrol and Boundary Power to investigate hydrogen storage solutions

A new strategic partnership and collaboration agreement between LAVO, Ampcontrol and Boundary Power is expected to deliver a range of solutions to regional and remote power users such as mine sites, along with data centres and other energy intensive industries.

The agreement between emerging hydrogen company LAVO, electrical, electronic and control system specialists Ampcontrol and standalone power system company Boundary Power will see the parties work together over the next two years to identify the use of LAVO’s hydrogen storage solutions and other zero-carbon products in different demonstration sites, they said.

Potential applications include:

  • Standalone hybrid power supplies;
  • Containerised solutions for small and utility scale wind and solar projects; and
  • Packaged power and battery solutions for data centres, industrial and mining applications.

Alan Yu, LAVO’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “LAVO’s hydrogen storage technology is ideally suited for integration with remote standalone power systems and for other containerised and mobile power solutions. We’re thrilled to be working with Ampcontrol and Boundary Power to explore the options for wider use of our products.”

Ampcontrol CEO and Boundary Power Director, Rod Henderson, said: “Ampcontrol has a long history in the development of innovative products and Boundary Power possesses industry leading experience in utility-grade stand-alone power solutions. Our partnership with LAVO is the continuation of our commitment to finding the best solutions to the energy challenges facing remote areas and energy intensive industries.”

Earlier this year, Macarthur Minerals has signed a strategic partnership and collaboration agreement with LAVO Hydrogen Technology Holding that could see the mine developer use LAVO’s hydrogen energy battery system on site at its flagship Lake Giles Iron project in the Yilgarn region of Western Australia.

BHP and TransAlta agree on solar, battery power system for Mt Keith and Leinster

BHP and its power partner in the Goldfields of Western Australia, TransAlta, are to build two solar farms and a battery storage system to help power the Mt Keith and Leinster nickel operations.

This will help BHP reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12%, based on financial year 2020 levels.

The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will include a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith and a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW battery at Leinster, and will displace power currently supplied by diesel and gas turbine generation, BHP said.

This will result in an estimated reduction of 540,000 t of CO2e over the first 10 years of operation. This is the equivalent of removing up to 23,000 combustion engine cars from the road every year, according to BHP.

BHP commissioned the solar farms and battery to be built, owned, and operated by TransAlta as part of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) extension signed in October 2020. Construction will commence in the December quarter, is expected to take 12-14 months and, at its peak, will employ over 100 people on site.

BHP Nickel West, Asset President, Eddy Haegel, said: “This is the first large-scale onsite solar farm and battery that BHP has commissioned at any of its global operations.

“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will further improve our position as one of the lowest carbon nickel miners in the world. It will reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12%, reduce fuel costs and improve the reliability of our electricity supply with the addition of the battery storage system.

“This announcement follows the nickel supply agreement we signed with Tesla last week. Sustainable low carbon nickel is essential for our battery and electric vehicle customers.”

TransAlta Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer, John Kousinioris, said: “We are proud to be supporting BHP’s emissions reduction targets and sustainability goals through the expansion of our renewable generation footprint into Australia.”

The partnership will contribute to BHP’s medium-term target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions from our operated assets by at least 30% from financial year 2020 levels by its 2030 financial year.

The project is subject to final Western Australia state government approvals.

247Solar’s HeatStorE to help miners integrate more renewables into the power mix

A new thermal battery from 247Solar Inc, a business with origins at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is set to help miners incorporate more renewable energy sources into the power mix at their remote operations.

The HeatStorE™ long duration thermal battery operates almost like an electrochemical battery but has significant advantages at longer durations, according to 247Solar.

“The basic principle of the thermal battery is rather simple,” the company explained. “Electric resistance coils heat an inexpensive thermal storage medium (silica sand) using low-cost excess electricity, eg from intermittent solar and wind power sources. Energy is stored as ultra-high temperature heat (up to 1,000°C) – at a fraction of the cost of batteries.”

Whenever needed, a specialised turbine reconverts the heat to electricity in this process, according to 247Solar. This turbine can generate electricity without combustion, as atmospheric-pressure air is passed through the ‘thermal storage’ and drives the ‘turbine’ to generate it.

By adding a combustor, the battery can also produce even more dispatchable back-up power, ideally using an emission-free fuel such as green hydrogen in the combustion process, 247Solar says.

“This is also how the battery can provide spinning reserves,” it said. “The innovative approach is designed to replace traditional diesel gensets at remote mines, as it provides 24/7 highly reliable operation with higher renewables penetration, significant fuel savings, and dramatically lower lifetime operating costs.”

Bruce Anderson, 247Solar’s CEO, said: “HeatStorE combines two inventions that are part of 247Solar’s Ultra-High Temperature Technology Platform, the 247Solar Heat2Power™ Turbine and the 247Solar Thermal Storage System. Combining these two proven technologies ensures that HeatStorE is also extremely reliable.

“We expect more than 20-year operations with little or no performance degradation.”

This new approach consists of a factory-made, shipping-size container filled with sand that is heated by resistance coils. It also comes with low operating and maintenance costs, according to the company.

“The combination of robustness and life-cycle cost advantages will enable mining companies to implement new power plant concepts with fewer diesel engines – ultimately without any at all,” 247Solar said.

The typical storage duration of HeatStorE is in the range of 4-20 hours, which also allows for substantial grid-support and load shifting. The cost per kWh drops rapidly with duration, it claims. Behind the meter in industrial applications, the battery can also convert otherwise-wasted hot process exhaust to electricity.

vSMRs could solve decarbonisation challenges at Canada’s remote northern mines: study

Very small modular reactors (vSMRs) could provide clean, economic and reliable power and heat to remote northern mines and surrounding communities in Canada, according to a recent study completed by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), and Mining Innovation, Rehabilitation, and Applied Research Corporation (MIRARCO).

The feasibility study, looking into vSMRs ability to reduce or eliminate reliance on diesel, found that the most economical energy mix was for vSMRs to provide 90% of the baseload power required for mining operations and associated uses, with only peak demand periods managed through use of diesel generation, reducing emissions by 85%. Emissions could be lowered further by adding other renewables to the mix, decreasing the diesel component, at a slightly increased cost, it said.

SMRs are defined as producing up to 300 MW of power, while vSMRs produce up to 10 MW of power per module. These small modular reactors are more flexible than conventional reactors, better enabling them to work within a diverse energy grid alongside intermittent technologies such as solar or wind, according to the study partners. They can also be used for applications like process heat or hydrogen production, which help enable further industrial sector decarbonisation.

The technology is seen to have potential applications in Canada’s mining sector, where there are 10 off-grid operating mines. Most of these are served by diesel generators, which offer reliable, fast-acting, easy-to-vary output but are GHG-emitting.

Advantages of a vSMR, producing less than 10 MW, include:

  • Their small size, making them easier to transport and install in remote communities, and scalable to meet changing needs;
  • Their ability to safely, reliably produce power;
  • Long operating life without the need for an onsite inventory of fuel; and
  • Short installation period due to their modular construction and factory fabrication.

Global First Power, a joint venture between OPG and USNC-Power, is the most advanced vSMR project in Canada, according to the study. The project recently received Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission approval to begin a technical review. Subject to federal government financial support, the next step in the process is to construct a demonstration vSMR at CNL’s Chalk River campus.

This demonstration project will serve as a model for future SMR deployments, as called for in Canada’s SMR Roadmap and Action Plan, by producing competitively priced clean energy ideally sized for remote communities and heavy industry such as mining and resource projects.

Robin Manley, Vice President of New Nuclear Development at OPG, said: “Nuclear power and SMRs play an enormous and critical role in meeting Canada’s climate change goals. This study demonstrates that not only can a vSMR dramatically reduce emissions in an industry that currently relies heavily on diesel, but it can do it in a cost-effective way.”

François Caron, Director of the Energy Center and Bruce Power Chair for Sustainable Energy Solutions, MIRARCO, Mining Innovation, added: “This study paves the way for the future of mining: not only does it show that vSMRs could provide a cost-effective and reliable energy source, it demonstrates that vSMRs are a long-term solution that can help diversify and intensify a mining operation while also providing a surplus that will benefit communities in the area.”

(Pictured is a cross section of the USNC-Power Micro Modular Reactor™ (MMR™) unit (CNW Group/Ontario Power Generation Inc))

Hybrid Systems Australia and LAVO to trial hydrogen energy storage at Kewdale

Hybrid Systems Australia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to determine and trial applications of LAVO’s hydrogen energy technology at its Kewdale facilities in Western Australia.

Hybrid Systems Australia, a subsidiary of Pacific Energy, specialises in the design, construction and installation of integrated hybrid systems, incorporating the use of solar photovoltaic, battery storage and backup, reciprocating gas and diesel generation, suitable for remote off-grid applications such as mine sites.

LAVO claims to have the first and only commercial-ready hydrogen energy storage system in the world designed for everyday use by residential homes and businesses, called the LAVO system. This system is designed to be easily integrated with existing solar panel infrastructure, with the company exploring further applications for its patented metal hydride solution. One potential application is already being explored at Macarthur Minerals Ltd’s Lake Giles iron ore project in Western Australia.

Under the MoU, LAVO will work closely with HSA to trial and test the application of hydrogen as an energy source using LAVO’s product offering at the Kewdale facility. As the first of its kind trial in Western Australia, it will test the applicability of incorporating LAVO’s products into HSA’s suite of products in the longer term, the companies said.

The demonstration project is expected to commence in July, extending the reach of LAVO’s existing demonstration projects across Australia.

Alan Yu, CEO and Executive Director of LAVO, said: “We are thrilled to be working with Hybrid Systems Australia on the development of the Western Australia LAVO demonstration project. With its commitment to supporting the shift to a greener future through alternative energy technologies, HSA’s vision for a renewable energy future amplifies our own ambitious sustainability agenda.

“Our industry partnerships continue to demonstrate the applicability of, and market interest in, LAVO’s hydrogen energy storage solutions and we look forward to developing a longer-term strategy alongside HSA as it commits to developing Western Australia as a centre for renewable hydrogen.”

Mike Hall, a Director of Hybrid Systems Australia, added: “Our investment in the development of ground-breaking projects like Denham, and our recent investment in Standalone Power Systems (SPS), has been driven by a nationwide demand for getting reliable power to remote customers using renewable energy solutions. We are excited at the opportunity to merge our experience and capabilities in hybrid power generation in conjunction with the LAVO technology and see many and varied applications for how we would use it.”