[VIDEO] DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine nearing completion of $40 million solar project

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Situated north-east of Perth in Western Australia, the DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine is expected to become the largest integrated off-grid solar and battery...

Situated north-east of Perth in Western Australia, the DeGrussa Copper-Gold Mine is expected to become the largest integrated off-grid solar and battery storage facility in Australia.

Owned by Sandfire Resources, DeGrussa is part of a $40 million project that will see the construction of a 10.6MW solar PV array, incorporating roughly 34,080 PV panels covering an area of 50 acres, with “MW” of battery storage to power the underground copper mine and processing plant.

The project, which commenced construction activities in July 2015, is currently 50 percent finished and expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.

According to the developer of the project, juwi Renewable Energy, installation of the solar modules is expected to be complete early in 2016, with other items to be installed in the coming months, including the solar inverter to change the electric current from DC to AC, transformers, and other electrical accessories and control systems.

The innovative project is expected to set a new benchmark in the use of renewable energy for the resource sector, rivaling Rio Tinto’s solar-power Weipa bauxite mine in Queensland.

The solar project will provide the majority of the mine's daytime electricity requirement, offsetting diesal consumption by 20 percent, while cutting carbon emission by an estimated 12,000 tons per year.

• Related content: WATCH: Weipa Solar Plant - Construction timelapse

"We identified some time ago that solar power presented an exciting opportunity for us to participate in a low-risk renewable energy initiative at DeGrussa,” said Sandfire Managing Director, Karl Simich.

“The DeGrussa Solar Power Project has the potential to reduce the mine’s diesel consumption and is consistent with our relentless focus on driving down costs.”

Financing for the project has been provided by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which has committed up to $15 million, while the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $20.9 million of funding with French renewable energy firm Neoen contributing the remaining balance.

Under a Power Purchase Agreement with juwi Renewable Energy Pty Ltd, Sandfire will be the customer/off-taker for the power generated, with juwi developing and operating the project.

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