Australian mining giant BHP has inked a deal that would integrate renewable energy generation into the power supply of its Nickel West site’s operations. The sustainable energy solutions poised to be adopted by the mining firm include solar, wind, and battery storage systems.
As noted in a Renew Economy report, BHP’s deal involves a 15-year power purchase agreement with Southern Cross Energy. This paves the way for the two companies to work together until 2038, while allowing the mining giant to supply “sustainable nickel” to its growing customer base. The company has not revealed which companies it will be supplying nickel to, though speculations suggest that one of them may be American electric car maker Tesla.
According to BHP, study phases for the supply and emissions reduction initiatives are already underway. These include an 18.5 MW solar and battery storage system at BHP’s Nickel West’s Leinster and Mount Keith site. A 17 MW waste heat steam turbine system is also being considered for the mining giant’s Kalgoorlie Smelter.
Eduard Haegel, Nickel West’s asset president, noted that the projects have the potential to reduce the mining firm’s Scope 2 electricity greenhouse gas emissions by a significant degree. Haegel remarked that based on 2020 levels, the initiatives could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 15% by 2023.
“These projects contribute to the first phase of our emissions reduction strategy, as we continue to evaluate plans for additional renewable energy supply to decarbonize our nickel operations. We are at the beginning of an energy revolution that will transform our world and materially increase demand for nickel. BHP Nickel West is well placed to provide our nickel units sustainably, and with one of the lowest carbon footprints,” he said.
Haegel has been pretty open about the potential offered by companies like Tesla for mining firms like BHP. During the Diggers and Dealers forum in Kalgoorlie earlier this month, the BHP executive mentioned that Tesla’s demand for sustainably-mined nickel could become opportunities for the mining industry. Haegel did not confirm if BHP was looking at a deal with Tesla then, though he did note that the mining giant is looking to upgrade its nickel processing and production facilities.
“At Tesla’s recent battery day, Elon Musk flagged the enormous demand that will come for nickel as this decade unfolds. His call for nickel miners to grow quickly offers real evidence of the place nickel has as a strategic battery metal going forward. Nickel West is well-positioned to benefit from this anticipated growth. Last year, we sold around 70% of our nickel to battery manufacturers around the world, making BHP one of the world’s leading battery metal suppliers,” he said.