Close up of solar arrays. Image: Soonthorn Wongsaita/shutterstock.com

In efforts to help underpin a low-carbon future and boost sustainable power supply for the Gove Peninsula after mining operations cease, Rio Tinto will build two new 5.25MW solar farms. 

The solar farms will be built on Gumatj and Rirratjingu country in the Northern Territory, on Rio Tinto leases, following agreement with the Gumatj and Rirratjingu Traditional Owner Groups on the location of the facilities. 

Aggreko will construct, own and operate the solar farms for Rio Tinto for up to ten years. Construction is due to begin in July 2024 and completion is scheduled for early 2025. The two sites will have combined capacity of 10.5MW. 

Rio Tinto Gove Operations Acting General Manager, Shannon Price, said, “The Gove solar project is part of our shared vision with Traditional Owners to leave a positive legacy for the Gove Peninsula communities after bauxite mining ceases. 

“We are excited to work with the Gumatj and Rirratjingu clans to provide an opportunity to secure alternative electricity generation assets on their country and to discuss opportunities to commercialise energy infrastructure in the future. 

“We are working in partnership with the Northern Territory Government and Traditional Owners to ensure a smooth transition of leased land and town assets and infrastructure as Rio Tinto prepares to stop mining at Gove later this decade.” 

Ms Price said the company is committed to its role in helping to plan for the region’s future, which includes providing options for reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable infrastructure. 

“The solar farms are also part of our ongoing commitment to decarbonise our business. Once operational, they are expected to reduce annual CO2e emissions at our Gove operations by up to 17 per cent. 

“We intend for these farms to underpin sustainable power for the region beyond mining.” 

When complete, the solar farms are expected to reduce the region’s annual diesel consumption by about 20 per cent, or 4.5 million litres a year, and lower annual carbon emissions by over 12,000t, which is the equivalent of taking 2,800 internal combustion engine cars off the road. 

Image: Soonthorn Wongsaita/shutterstock.com

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