Rio Tinto plans planning to trial solar at 20 of its global operations.

The mining giant is following the earlier success at Weipa, where Rio Tinto Alcan installed a 1.2MW (AC) solar farm at its bauxite mine operation in Far North Queensland back in 2015, with the support of AU$3.5 million in funding from Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

And more opportunities are emerging.

As global energy importers lay the groundwork for a low emissions future, hydrogen could provide an opportunity for our resources companies to maintain Australia’s role as an energy export superpower.

ARENA is investing in projects that are exploring the potential for hydrogen to be produced with electrolysers powered by the sun and wind – resources Australia is rich in.

As demand for green hydrogen grows from countries like Japan and South Korea, Australia is poised to take advantage of its established trading relationships to build a jobs-rich industry for generations to come.

The technology has the potential to address energy and carbon goals as a zero-emissions fuel for heavy haulage equipment and machinery, as a means of firming renewable electricity and providing back-up power generation, and even as a source of high-grade heat for mineral processing.

Major and mid-tier mining leaders are working to understand the challenges that need to b addressed before hydrogen technology can hit the mainstream. We know the opportunity exists, but have work to do to understand the infrastructure requirements, costs, and safety standards.

And in the short-term, there is an opportunity for established renewables to do more heavy lifting – particularly those in off-grid or remote locations with limited access to existing energy infrastructure.

*Article published in the July-September 2019 issue of The Asia Miner

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