Rio Tinto and Yindjibarndi Energy ink Pilbara deal

Regional town of Newman in WA's Pilbara region (rio tinto)
Newman in WA's Pilbara region (Image: Shutterstock)

Rio Tinto and Yindjibarndi Energy Corporation (YEC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore opportunities to collaborate on renewable energy projects on Yindjibarndi country in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

Rio Tinto and YEC will study and evaluate a range of opportunities including wind and solar power as well as battery energy storage systems. The initial focus is on rapidly exploring the potential development of a solar power generation facility for the supply of energy to Rio Tinto.

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Rio Tinto operates four gas-fired power stations in the Pilbara. About 600MW to 700MW of renewable generation is estimated to be required to displace the majority of gas use across its network. The company is currently assessing the development of approximately 300MW of solar projects. The collaboration opportunities currently being explored by Rio Tinto and YEC if progressed, would be complementary to renewable energy developments on Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s electricity grid.

YEC was established in June following an agreement between Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) and renewable energy developer ACEN Corporation (ACEN) to progress the development of major renewable energy projects on Yindjibarndi Ngurra (country) – an area covering approximately 13,000km2 within the Yindjibarndi Native Title Determination Areas.

YEC’s initial plans include a Stage 1 target of 750MW of combined wind, solar, and battery storage with construction to commence within the next few years. The collaboration opportunities being considered by Rio Tinto and YEC relate to some of these Stage 1 projects.

YAC CEO Michael Woodley said, “Yindjibarndi Ngurra is ideally suited to developing renewable energy generation and our people are encouraged by Rio Tinto’s interest in building this capacity with us.

“This will strengthen our existing partnership and provide long term benefits for our community, while also ensuring that we can protect and preserve the areas of cultural, spiritual and environmental significance within our Ngurra.”

ACEN International CEO Patrice Clausse said, “This MOU signifies more than just a partnership; it’s a testament to the shared vision of sustainable energy development on Yindjibarndi Ngurra.

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“It is the perfect blend of traditional significance and modern technology, designed to harness the limitless potential of the Pilbara’s sun and wind, while respecting the deep-rooted connection of the Yindjibarndi people with their land.

“Together, we are crafting an energy future that is not only renewable, but also renewing, by empowering local communities and contributing to a greener future.”

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