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Rio Tinto doubles down to produce renewable aluminium

Manufacturing News

Miner and aluminium producer Rio Tinto has doubled down on its moves to decarbonise the aluminium production chain announcing a second and Australia’s largest renewable power purchase agreement (PPA) to supply its Gladstone operations in Queensland.

The company has agreed to buy the majority of electricity from Windlab’s planned 1.4GW Bungaban wind energy project.

The agreement, which follows the announcement last month of a PPA for the Upper Calliope solar farm in Queensland, will make Rio Tinto the biggest industrial buyer of renewable power in Australia.

The two deals are a step in the work to repower the company’s Gladstone production assets – the Boyne aluminium smelter, Yarwun alumina refinery and Queensland Alumina refinery.

Under the new PPA with Windlab, Rio Tinto will buy 80 percent of all power generated from the Bungaban wind energy project over 25 years.

The project, now in early development, will be built and operated by Windlab at a site in Queensland about 290 kilometres south-west of Gladstone, subject to development and grid connection approvals.

Once developed, the combined 2.2GW of renewable PPAs with Windlab and European Energy have the potential to lower carbon emissions by about five million tonnes per year and could generate the equivalent of 10 percent of Queensland’s current power demand.

Rio Tinto Chief Executive Jakob Stausholm said: “This agreement with Windlab builds on our momentum in our work to repower our Gladstone operations and provide a sustainable future for heavy industry in Central Queensland.

“The task remains challenging, but we have a pathway to provide the competitive, firmed power our Gladstone plants need and we are continuing to work hard with all stakeholders, including the Queensland and Australian governments, on getting there.

“Competitive capacity, firming, and transmission, are critical to developing a modern energy system that can ensure more large-scale renewables development in Queensland and help guarantee the future of Australian industry.”

Rio Tinto said it will continue to engage with potential partners to assess other proposals to help meet the energy needs of its three production assets in the Gladstone region.

Further reading:
Rio to power Gladstone operations with solar
Rio Tinto to build Gladstone hydrogen plant

Picture: Rio Tinto

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