Solar could play role in new copper mine

Carra landscape

In the wake of South Australia’s statewide blackout in September, Oz Minerals has indicated it may turn to solar power to help run the giant copper mine it is building in Gawler Craton, 160km north of Port Augusta, as reported by Business Recorder.

Mining companies have traditionally steered clear of deploying onsite renewables, opting instead for coal- and gas-fired power and diesel fuel, which are seen as being more reliable. However, the statewide blackout has since raised concerns in regard to energy security, and Oz Minerals managing director Andrew Cole said solar panels could potentially supplement the energy needs of the company’s $975 million Carrapateena mine project.

Mr Cole said he was looking at a number of alternative energy sources to support Carrapateena in addition to solar, with the project taking shape over the next three years.

Mr Cole said he had held talks with power companies and public officials since the blackout to seek assurances adequate power would be available, Business Recorder reported.

“You cannot run any mine off grid with just solar,” he said.

“Until we have very good power storage solutions, renewables will always need to be complemented by sufficient base load.”