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Wonmunna solar array powers up

Mineral Resources (MinRes) has marked an important milestone in its energy strategy with the successful installation of a 2.1 megawatt (MW) solar-battery system at our Wonmunna iron ore project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Located 80km north-west of Newman, the Wonmunna mine was purchased as an undeveloped project in FY21. First ore was achieved just five months after construction began at the site and during FY22, production from Wonmunna ramped up to five million tonnes per annum.

Installation of the 5B Maverick solar technology at the Wonmunna site – complete with more than 4,000 solar panels – was completed during FY23. Following successful testing and optimisation works, the technology is now providing significant benefits for site operations and reducing dependency on diesel fuel.

The combined solar-battery system will produce more that 30% of the mine’s power requirements and ultimately cut diesel consumption by approximately 760,000 litres each year, while reducing the site’s carbon emissions by around 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent each year.

In addition, the crusher at the site is powered 100% by the system during the middle of the day when renewable output meets peak plant load.

During the warmer summer months the system can achieve more than 40% displacement on any given day – and with a 20-year life span it can be redeployed to other operations once Wonmunna reaches its end-of-life.

Chief Executive Energy Darren Hardy said the Wonmunna solar and battery array at was a positive step forward in the company’s renewable energy strategy.

“MinRes is committed to pursuing renewable energy opportunities where we can and our team has been working hard to deliver a solar array and battery solution that delivers optimum output at Wonmunna,” Darren said.

“Together with natural gas, renewables will play an important role in our energy future, and MinRes continues to pursue off-grid solar power and energy storage solutions to support our remote locations.”

Gas and LNG power stations currently supporting our lithium operations at our Mt Marion in the Goldfields and Wodgina in the Pilbara are delivering significant emissions savings. This includes a 64MW capable power station at Wodgina, which is the largest of its kind on a mine site in the southern hemisphere.

At the upcoming Onslow Iron project, also in the Pilbara, MinRes will install a range of energy solutions designed to offset diesel with alternative fuels and renewable energy options, energy storage, and electrification of mobile equipment and transport.

MinRes recognises the need for meaningful action to address climate change and we are committed to investing in activities that reduce the carbon intensity of our operations and maintaining best-practice environmental, social and governance performance.

Our Roadmap to Net Zero Emissions outlines our pathway towards a transition to gas, renewable energy and other emerging technologies to support our operations and reduce our carbon intensity – including our goal to achieve of net zero emissions by 2050.