BHP signs wind farm deal in renewables push

BHP has signed a deal with Neoen energy company to support a planned 203MW wind farm it hopes will meet half of the Olympic Dam mine’s electricity needs by 2026.

Nov 03, 2022, updated Nov 03, 2022
Olympic Dam in South Australia's north. Photo: BHP

Olympic Dam in South Australia's north. Photo: BHP

The global mining giant announced the Power Purchase Agreement today, saying it was integral to its own plans for the copper, uranium, gold and silver mine Olympic Dam to record net zero emissions.

Neoen intends constructing its Goyder South Stage 1b wind farm in its Goyder Renewables Zone proposed for a region near Burra in South Australia, along with a large-scale battery energy storage system in Blyth.

The wind and battery project is expected to create about 250 construction jobs and 15 permanent jobs in the state, according to company chairman and chief executive officer Xavier Barbaro.

“This first baseload PPA is a significant step forward for Neoen and will serve as a template for future contracts, opening up new market opportunities in Australia and in the rest of the world,” Barbaro said.

Neoen already owns two of the world’s largest lithium-ion batteries at Hornsdale Power Reserve (150 MW / 193.5 MWh) near Jamestown, South Australia, and the Victorian Big Battery (300 MW / 450 MWh) near Geelong, Victoria.

This latest agreement also supports BHP’s commitment to reducing operational greenhouse gas emissions (Scopes 1 and 2 from its operated assets) by at least 30 per cent from adjusted FY2020 levels by FY2030.

BHP has reported record profits with underlying earnings of $57 billion this year, boosted by higher copper prices and a strong finish to the financial year by SA’s Olympic Dam mine sited 560 kilometres north of Adelaide.

“The world needs South Australia’s high-quality copper to build renewable technologies and infrastructure, and BHP is focused on producing that copper more sustainably,” BHP Olympic Dam asset president Jennifer Purdie said.

“This agreement will support BHP on its decarbonisation journey, and provide new firmed renewable energy and increased stability to the South Australian grid.”

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BHP has also announced that its SA workforce has grown to 10,300 local employees and contractors in FY22, up from 7,700 in the previous year.

Among its assets, BHP owns Olympic Dam mine and Oak Dam copper, gold and uranium mine in the state’s north.

In August, South Australian copper and nickel miner Oz Minerals knocked back a takeover bid from BHP, saying the $8b offer was undervalued and not in the best interests of shareholders.

OZ Minerals later announced in September it was investing $1.7 billion into unlocking one of the largest nickel and copper mines in the world in Western Australia, and the South Australian-based company claimed it planned to also make it one of the most sustainable.

Goyder South Stage 1, consisting of Goyder South 1a and 1b, is the first stage of Neoen’s flagship project known as Goyder Renewables Zone – a hybrid wind, solar and storage project located in mid-north South Australia.

Goyder South has development approval for a total of 1200 MW of wind generation, 600 MW of solar generation and 900 MW of battery storage capacity – making it South Australia’s largest renewable project.

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