#Rio Tinto#First Solar#Ingenero Pty#Weipa bauxite#Mining#Rio Tinto

[How To] Save on Operational Costs with Solar Power

Mining precious metals is a costly business. While the process can be extremely lucrative, mining companies face an array of expensive challenges like m...

Admin
|May 22|magazine5 min read

Mining precious metals is a costly business. While the process can be extremely lucrative, mining companies face an array of expensive challenges like maintaining productivity, safety, equipment, and profitability. Couple that with uncertain commodity prices and mining can be downright astronomical.  

Mining companies are fighting back though. Companies are finding ways to cut operational costs through innovative measures and doing more with less. Rio Tinto for example, one of the largest mining companies in the world, has recently partnered with one of the larger solar-panel makers in the United States to help save on fuel costs. First Solar and Ingenero Pty have agreed to provide solar power to Rio Tinto’s Weipa bauxite mine in Queensland state, which will allow the company to not only receive an Australian tax break, but provide a more efficient and cleaner solution in almost all aspects of its business.

“Having a company like Rio go into this space sends a pretty strong message to the rest of the industry,” Jack Curtis, First Solar’s Sydney-based vice president of business development for the Asia-Pacific, said in an interview. “We’ve already seen a good uptick in interest in these projects from companies like Rio, and we think that will accelerate on the back of this announcement.”

First Solar is seeking to develop as much as 200 megawatts of capacity for the mining industry over three years. The company is also talking to other mining companies to provide additional hybrid projects that will provide reliable energy supply to operations trough solar technology.

The project between Rio Tinto and First Solar will start with 1.7 megawatts and could potentially add an additional five megawatts. The first phase of the project will generate enough electricity to offset as much as 20 percent of the daytime demand while also reducing the company’s diesel use.

The project “is the first one of any meaningful size that is being done globally with a company of Rio’s prominence and size, so there’s a real potential to export this as a pilot to a much broader global audience,” Curtis said.