Jobs boost as construction begins on Northern Goldfields solar and battery storage project

Published on February 1st 2022 | CALGARY, Alberta

CALGARY, Alberta (February 1, 2022) – Construction is now underway on one of the world’s largest off-grid mining solar and battery energy storage systems being built by TransAlta Energy (Australia) Pty Ltd. (“TransAlta”) to help power BHP Nickel West’s Mt Keith and Leinster operations.

The Northern Goldfields Solar Project, which was announced last year, includes a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith, a 10.7 MW solar farm and a 10.1 MW battery at Leinster, and will be integrated into TransAlta’s Northern Goldfields remote power grid.

The project, which will replace power currently supplied by diesel and gas, will help BHP Nickel West reduce scope 2 emissions at its Mt Keith and Leinster operations by 12 per cent1 resulting in an estimated reduction of 54,000 tonnes CO2-e per annum.

The construction phase of the project is set to create more than 100 direct and indirect jobs in the Goldfields and Perth regions and is expected to produce its first solar power by November 2022.

The project aims to employ Traditional Owners from the Tijwarl Native Title Holders following TransAlta’s contractor, juwi, awarding Cundaline Resources with the primary civil contractor role on the project. Cundaline Resources is an Aboriginal business whose owners include members of the Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation.

BHP Nickel West Asset President Jessica Farrell said BHP was meeting its commitment to deliver sustainable low carbon nickel to its customers, a product that is in high demand to power batteries and electric vehicles.

“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project is BHP’s first off-grid large-scale renewable energy project across our global operations and, significantly, will remove the equivalent of up to 23,000 combustion engine cars2 from the road every year, supporting our greenhouse gas reduction targets,” Ms Farrell said.

“It is also very exciting that following years of close engagement with the Tjiwarl Native Title Holders, our project has contracted the services of a local Aboriginal business, boosting opportunities for people in the local community and across the northern Goldfields generally,” she said.

TransAlta also unveiled today it had entered into an agreement with BHP to identify potential wind sites for a 40 to 50MW wind farm, which would connect to TransAlta’s northern grid and reduce scope 2 emissions at BHP’s Mt Keith and Leinster operations by an estimated further 30 per cent. Adding wind will increase renewable energy supply to support BHP’s growth and to further each company’s sustainability goals.

TransAlta Australia Managing Director, Kelvin Koay, said the construction phase of the solar and battery farm was an exciting step for the project.

“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project is TransAlta’s first renewable energy project in Australia and is an important element of our Clean Electricity Growth plan. This project contributes to achieving TransAlta’s target of a 75 per cent GHG emissions reduction over 2015 levels by 2026 and 2050 carbon neutrality goal. As a company, we have a strong decarbonization track record having already achieved a 61 per cent emissions reduction since 2005.”

“We’ve had a long-standing partnership with BHP since the 1990s and we welcome the opportunity to support BHP in meeting its carbon emission targets and in enhancing its competitiveness as one of the lowest carbon nickel miners in the world,” added Mr Koay.

He said TransAlta had also been able to build on BHP’s close engagement with the Tjiwarl Native Title Holders by engaging Cundaline Resources on the project.

“Throughout the planning phase and now into construction, both TransAlta and BHP have prioritized their stakeholder engagement with the Tjiwarl Traditional Owners to understand what is important to them and to ensure we consider that when we plan, develop and construct a project,” Mr Koay said.

Cundaline Resources Managing Director and Tjiwarl Traditional Owner, Brenden Taylor, welcomed the opportunities that the project brings for Traditional Owners and Traditional Owner businesses.

“I would like to thank juwi, TransAlta and BHP Nickel West for providing Cundaline Resources with this exciting opportunity out on country,” Mr Taylor said.

Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum; Energy, Bill Johnston, congratulated BHP and TransAlta on their game-changing renewable energy project.

“The companies are setting a great example of new social and environmental standards and I look forward to this project coming to fruition.

“The McGowan Government is supportive of mining and resources companies that are embracing renewable energy solutions, which all contribute to our target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Nickel is a key ingredient for a low carbon energy future, and this is another step forward for the McGowan Government’s Future Battery Industry Strategy.”

  1. Based on FY20 scope 2 emissions.
  2. Based on the average combined CO2 emissions for a new light vehicle sold in Australia of 182 grams per kilometre in 2017 and average travel distance of 13,301 kilometres a year.

 About TransAlta Renewables Inc.

The Northern Goldfields Solar Project is being provided by Southern Cross Energy Partnership.  Southern Cross Energy Partnership a direct subsidiary of TransAlta Energy (Australia) Pty Ltd. TransAlta Renewables Inc., a majority owned subsidiary of TransAlta Corporation, owns an indirect economic interest in TransAlta Energy (Australia) Pty Ltd. 

TransAlta Renewables is among the largest of any publicly traded renewable independent power producers (“IPP”) in Canada. Our asset platform and economic interests are diversified in terms of geography, generation and counterparties and consist of interests in 27 wind facilities, 13 hydroelectric facilities, eight natural gas generation facilities, twenty-one solar facilities, one natural gas pipeline, and one battery storage project, representing an ownership interest of 2,966 megawatts of owned generating capacity, located in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Québec, New Brunswick, the States of Pennsylvania,  New Hampshire, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Washington, North Carolina, and the State of Western Australia. Our objectives are to (i) provide stable, consistent returns for investors through the ownership of, and investment in, highly contracted renewable and natural gas power generation and other infrastructure assets that provide stable cash flow primarily through long-term contracts with strong counterparties; (ii) pursue and capitalize on strategic growth opportunities in the renewable and natural gas power generation and other infrastructure sectors; (iii) maintain diversity in terms of geography, generation and counterparties; and (iv) pay out 80 to 85 per cent of cash available for distribution to the shareholders of the Company on an annual basis.


Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-looking Information

This media release contains “forward-looking information”  and “forward-looking statements” (collectively referred to herein as “forward-looking statements”).  In some cases, forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as “plans”, “expects”, “proposed”, “will”, “anticipates”, “develop”, “continue”, and similar expressions suggesting future events or future performance.  In particular, this media release contains, without limitation, forward-looking statements pertaining to the Northern Goldfields Solar Project, including timing of commercial operation, capacity, associated emission reductions, and the number of jobs expected to be created.  The forward-looking statements contained in this media release are based on current expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions, having regard to the Company’s experience and its perception of historical trends, as well as other factors management of the Company believes to be reasonable and relevant in the circumstances.  The forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements.  Some of the factors that could cause such differences include: supply chain disruptions; effects of weather; catastrophes and public health crises, including COVID-19; labour availability; and other risks and uncertainties relevant to the construction of renewable projects. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which reflect the Company’s expectations only as of the date of this news release and the Company disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.



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