Bellevue Gold Limited says it has taken a pivotal step towards its aspirational goal of becoming Australia’s first ASX-listed gold miner with net-zero emissions by signing an Early Works Agreement with Energy Developments Pty Ltd and locking in long-lead items for its power station, ready for the processing plant commissioning in mid-2023.
The purchasing of the long lead items will see the company continue its carbon mitigation strategy, based off proven technologies with a Tier 1 power supplier, it said.
This agreement is a key step in Bellevue’s strategy to be powered by a forecast average of 80% renewable energy each year using a wind, solar and battery hybrid power solution.
EDL built, owns and operates a similar turnkey power solution at the Agnew gold mine, around 35 km south of the Bellevue gold project.
Bellevue and EDL are currently negotiating a Power Purchase Agreement for the project, which is subject to approval by the boards of both EDL and Bellevue.
Bellevue says its power solution is central to the company’s goal of generating the lowest carbon emissions per ounce of gold produced by any major Australian gold mine, with forecast emissions of between 0.15-0.20 t of CO2e/oz.
“As well as being the lowest emitter on a per ounce basis, the project is forecast to have the lowest total Scope 1 emissions of any major mine in Australia,” it said. “This will give the project the cleanest power supply in Australia based on a greenhouse gas per kilowatt hour basis of power generation.”
By reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with a renewable energy power station and undertaking other sustainable initiatives, Bellevue aims to produce carbon-neutral gold, giving the company a major competitive advantage in global investment markets, it says. This also provides potential for the company to seek a premium for the sale of ‘green gold’, it added.
The power station will prioritise the use of renewable energy and will also include a gas engine configuration, which, it says, will ensure there is sufficient power for the mine, even in the rare absence of solar and wind resources.
EDL will supply trucked LNG to the project to maintain optionality for any future technological innovations in thermal generation alternative fuels. Trucked LNG provides a much cleaner fuel than diesel, which was an important consideration to reduce emissions as far as possible, it said.
At a steady-state production rate of 1 Mt/y, renewable energy is expected to meet up to 80% of the project’s annual electricity needs, taking advantage of the region’s strong solar and wind resources.
Bellevue says it has been modelling the wind speeds and direction with a SODAR unit, which has allowed for the integration of wind turbines to increase the renewable energy penetration rate.
Maximising renewable energy uptake has been a key design consideration for the processing facility. The facility will have the ability to use more power – such as crushing and heating – when increased renewable energy is available, reducing thermal requirements, according to the company.
The planned infrastructure includes an oversized crushing circuit to facilitate a processing rate of more than 1.5 Mt/y (against current throughput rate of 1 Mt/y), allowing the operational flexibility in this area for an optimised match up of the renewable energy demand to the renewable energy resource.
The designed infrastructure will allow Bellevue to have a cost-effective renewable energy supply and optimise the power demand curve to better align with key daytime (solar) and night time (wind) energy peaks and troughs. Through the generation of power from renewable energy sources, it will create the optionality for the crushing circuit to maximise crushing in peak renewable energy generation periods. This will have the potential to offset more than 1 MW in demand on thermal power generation and lead to a direct cost saving and emissions reduction.
Bellevue Managing Director, Steve Parsons, said: “EDL is a leader in hybrid off-grid power stations. Their skills and experience will help ensure we maximise the use of renewable energy at the Bellevue gold project.
“Bellevue is forecasted to be a 200,000 oz a year gold miner with low all-in sustaining costs of A$1,000-A$1,100/oz ($644-$708/oz) powered by circa-80% renewable energy, with a pathway to net-zero emissions as a world-leading company in the race to decarbonise the mining sector.
“Our pre-production carbon mitigation strategy has been strategic and is world leading. It achieves the ‘holy grail’ of lower emissions and a direct cost reduction in power generation.
“The combination of these metrics is expected to will position Bellevue as one of the most sustainable and financially successful Australian gold miners, maximising returns for all stakeholders. It will also underpin the company’s strong appeal to global investors, who demand performance on both financial and ESG measures.”
On the same day as the EDL announcement, the company signed a Native Title Agreement with Tjiwarl (Aboriginal Corporation) RNTBC, being the native title rights and interests holders and traditional owners of the land which hosts the Bellevue gold project.