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Construction begins on solar power plant at Rio’s Weipa Bauxite Mine

Weipa Bauxite MineConstruction has begun on an Australian-first solar power plant at Rio Tinto Alcan’s Weipa bauxite mine in North Queensland.

The  project involves the construction of a 1.7MW solar farm at a cost of $4 million and a possible second stage, worth $17 million, is planned.

The solar project will be the first large-scale off-grid solar farm for the mining sector in remote Australia.

The government’s ARENA (Australian Renewable Energy Agency) will provide $3.5 million towards the first stage of this $23.4 million solar farm which will supply up to 6.7MWp of solar power to the  mine in Weipa including the township and port.Completion of the first stage is expected in January 2015.

At the completion of stage two, which will also involve battery storage, up to 100 per cent of diesel-generated electricity will be replaced with solar power.

MPower has signed a contract with First Solar Australia, a photovoltaic systems provider, to construct the off-the-grid solar plant.

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