Mount Isa’s North West Minerals Province will be powered by a new solar farm under a two staged plan with an initial investment of more than $80 million.
The 88 MW solar farm at Mica Creek in Mount Isa will be built by leading energy infrastructure business APA Group.
Earlier this week, APA has reached a Final Investment Decision (FID) to build the 44 MW stage one of the solar farm, which will support customers in the North West Minerals Province with affordable, renewable electricity.
The investment is underpinned by a new 15-year solar offtake agreement with existing APA customer and leading zinc miner, MMG Dugald River (MMG), to supply renewable energy.
APA CEO and Managing Director Rob Wheal said the company also entered into a 32-year lease agreement with the Queensland Government to locate the solar farm on a site near its Diamantina Power Station Complex.
“The Mica Creek Solar Farm will deliver lower emissions power underpinned by the reliability of APA’s gas-fired power, while reducing the average cost and emissions of power across Mount Isa,” Mr Wheals continued.
“This solar agreement is the result of us working closely with MMG to ensure we meet their needs as a valued customer, so they can in turn continue to support a growing and leading zinc operation in Queensland.
“As always, we will continue to work with our customers to support their requirements, consistent with APA’s purpose to strengthen communities through responsible energy.
“APA has been working with Economic Development Queensland in relation to a lease to support the solar farm, and is very pleased to work with the Queensland Government to support the ongoing development of the North West Minerals Province.”
Queensland’s Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Steven Miles said the project would also provide a boost to employment and the local economy, employing around 300 people during peak construction, and an ongoing workforce of between 1-5 people.
“This is another example of Queensland leading the way as we move closer to our target of achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030,” Mr Miles added.
The first stage of the solar farm is expected to be operational in early 2023, while APA is in advanced discussions with a number of customers to commit to the development of stage two.