Mount Isa Mines levels up renewables

APA solar farm at Mount Isa, Queensland. Image: Glencore. Glencore’s…

APA solar farm at Mount Isa, Queensland. Image: Glencore.

Glencore’s Mount Isa Mines operation is set to source 20 per cent of its long-term electricity needs from APA Group’s new solar farm in Mica Creek, Queensland.

Under a 15-year agreement, Mount Isa Mines can use up to 50 per cent of the solar electricity produced each year at the Mica Creek solar farm (also known as the Dugald River solar farm).

The agreement was first announced in December 2023, where Glencore zinc assets Australia chief operating officer Sam Strohmayr said the partnership will help Glencore reduce its emissions footprint.

“The partnership helps reduce our high-power costs which is one of the elements that make it difficult to compete with our international rivals,” Strohmayr said.

The 88-megawatt farm at the basis of the agreement was officially opened yesterday and is poised to boast 180,000 solar panels across 200 hectares of land. The official opening was attended by Strohmayr.

“APA has been working with us for many years providing reliable electricity for our Mount Isa Mines operations,” Strohmayr said. “We welcomed the opportunity to partner with APA on a renewables project and in the process contribute to a collective effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“There are several benefits from this agreement ­– not only for us but also for the community. Mount Isa Mines is reducing its carbon footprint, and in the process using renewable energy to help produce energy transition metals, such as zinc and copper, that are needed globally for a low carbon future.”

In October 2023, Glencore announced plans to close the Mount Isa Mines underground copper operations – Enterprise, X41 and Black Rock – and its copper concentrator by the end of 2025. The company cited low ore grades as the cause.

Glencore’s Lady Loretta zinc mine, which was a finite orebody with a seven-year mine life, will also close in 2025.

In response to the Mount Isa closures, the Queensland Government created the $50 million Mount Isa Transition Fund, which aims to boost projects that can commence quickly, create jobs, and build on the region’s reputation as a great place to live and work.

With $20 million going towards shovel-ready mining projects, $30 million will be used to accelerate resources projects in the Northwest Minerals Province. The initiative will be led by the Queensland Treasury and Department of Resources.

Other Mount Isa operations such as the copper smelter, the George Fisher mine, the zinc-lead concentrator, the lead smelter, and the copper refinery in Townsville remain operating.

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