50 MW solar farm the centrepiece of Queensland mine proposal
Western Australian outfit Greenvale Mining looks to be leaning heavily on its hybrid power station to get its Alpha Torbanite project across the line, framing the planned 50 MW solar farm as a significant drawcard and even adding the wholesaling of electricity to the top of the project’s products list.
The company recently released a conference presentation to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) saying its proposed hybrid power station serves “an important strategic purpose” and will be particularly important for the Queensland government which its targeting 50% renewable power generation by 2030.
Alongside the sale of wholesale electricity, the mine’s main product will be torbanite, also known as boghead coal or channel coal, which is a variety of fine-grained black oil shale. Seemingly cognisant of the global loss of appetite for all things coal and oil, Greenvale is putting its colocated hybrid power station front and centre of its “new development strategy”. (Neil Biddle, Greenvale’s managing director, was a founding director of Pilbara Minerals Limited, one of Australia’s major lithium miners, and so is probably well aware of the momentum now behind the clean energy transition.)
Greenvale’s current planning is based on having a 50 MW gas turbine which it says will produce enough waste heat for the retorting process coupled with a 50 MW solar farm, though the company has indicated the solar farm could be swapped for an “alternative renewable energy system”.
Nonetheless, the company says the solar farm projected to offset all carbon emissions over the life of the project, which is set to operate for 10 years as a simple open cut operation extracting torbanite from a depth of five to 50 metres underground. Greenvale estimates the project will cost between $125 million and $200 million, most of which will go towards the hybrid power station infrastructure.
The other major selling point of the proposal is bitumen – as in the road base. Bitumen products typically came from oil refineries, but with those closing, Australia is in need of a new source.
The feasibility study for Greenvale’s Alpha Torbanite project is set to be released in the first quarter of 2022.