Rio Tinto’s new mine powered by 34 MW of solar


From pv magazine Australia

Mining giant Rio Tinto has officially opened its Gudai-Darri iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (WA). The company is calling Gudai-Darri its most technologically advanced iron ore mine in the region, with a capacity of 43 million tons each year. 

The mine boasts all sorts of Q-Branch-style gadgets, from autonomous trucks, trains and drills, to a digital replica of the processing plant complete with interactive 3D environment for virtual reality training. However, the flashiest technology has to be the site’s 34 MW solar farm. 

Consisting of 83,000 panels the solar farm will provide one-third of the electricity needs of the mine. It is expected to be completed in August. 

It is not surprising that the company is on its best behaviour after it destroyed two 46,000-year-old sacred Indigenous sites in the Juukan Gorge back in 2020. Perhaps the only surprising thing is that Rio Tinto has been allowed to continue mining at all. 

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Rio Tinto Iron Ore CEO Simon Trott described Gudai-Darri as Rio Tinto’s first greenfield mine in the Pilbara in more than a decade. 

Western Australian Minister for Mines Bill Johnston said that the solar farm will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 90,000 tons a year, which equal to the annual emissions produced by 6,000 Australian households. 

Rio Tinto has promised to develop a 1 GW solar and wind power operation in the Pilbara, with plans to develop green steel. The company has also promised 4 GW of renewables, with firming for its Queensland projects. 

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