Mining conglomerate Rio Tinto plans to invest a further $600 million in renewable energy assets in the iron ore-rich Pilbara region of Western Australia.
The investment is part of a drive to halve its carbon emissions by 2030, and will be used to construct two 100 megawatts (MW) solar power facilities and a 200-megawatt hour (MWh) on-grid battery storage in Pilbara by 2026, the company said in a statement.
Rio Tinto, the world’s biggest iron ore miner, last year announced a $7.5 billion plan to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 as steel and iron ore producers race to meet global climate commitments by 2050.
The projects will abate around 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to a 10% reduction in scope 1 and 2 emissions from Rio’s iron ore business in Pilbara based on 2021 levels, and cut gas costs by about $55 million per year at current prices, it said.
Initial funding for Rio Tinto’s first major standalone solar farm on the Pilbara coast has been approved.
Construction, which will involve the installation of around 225 000 solar panels built to withstand the Pilbara’s cyclonic conditions, is expected to start next year.
Rio Tinto said the firm’s broader ‘energy transition’ is expected to add as much as 25 per cent in new demand above traditional sources.
It added: ‘Rio Tinto is targeting investment of up to $3billion per year in growth to meet this demand, including the Oyu Tolgoi copper, Rincon lithium and Simandou iron ore projects.’