South African miner Gold Fields is set to predominantly operate its Agnew gold mine in Western Australia on renewable energy.

Situated 1,000km north-east of Perth, the mine includes two underground complexes and a 1.3Mtpa processing plant.

In partnership with global energy group EDL, the mining company has announced an A$112m ($77.59m) investment in an energy microgrid that combines wind, solar, gas and battery storage.

Construction has already started for the development of the Agnew microgrid, which will be owned and operated by EDL.

It will comprise five wind turbines capable of delivering 18MW of power; a 10,000-panel solar farm contributing 4MW; and a 13MW / 4MWh battery energy storage system (BESS).

This will also be supported by a 16MW gas engine power station.

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By GlobalData

The project is also backed by the Australian Government, which has awarded a recoupable A$13.5m ($9.35m) funding to support to its construction of the microgrid through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

Gold Fields Australia executive vice-president Stuart Mathews said: “The ARENA contribution supports and encourages our efforts.

“We are making staged investments across our mines in Western Australia to significantly ramp up the innovative use of renewables to meet our dynamic and growing load requirements.”

The Agnew microgrid is expected to initially provide between 55% and 60% of the mine’s energy requirements. However, the device will be capable of meeting almost all the energy requirements of the Agnew mine at certain times.

Last October, Gold Fields awarded two contract extensions with a combined value of $238.55m to Barminco to continue the provision of services at the Agnew gold mine.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “The project Gold Fields is undertaking will provide a blueprint for other companies to deploy similar off-grid energy solutions and demonstrate a pathway for commercialisation, helping to decarbonise the mining and resources sector.”

The move follows the announcement of a microgrid at Gold Fields’ Granny Smith mine. Scheduled to complete in the fourth quarter of this year, this microgrid features 20,000 solar panels and a 2MW /1MWh battery system.