"This is a remarkable situation": Cadia turns to solar

A 90 PER cent blowout in power costs could lead Cadia Valley Operations (CVO) to turn to solar power.

Cadia's processing plant

Cadia's processing plant

Newcrest Mining chief executive Sandeep Biswas confirmed the miner was considering installing a solar farm at CVO to help insulate the operation from soaring electricity prices.

In April, the company revealed the power supply contract it signed for CVO for the 2018 financial year had a base price 90 per cent higher than what it paid in the year to June.

The impact could be as much as $US45 an ounce, depending on the mine's output and energy consumption.

"Energy policy in Australia, or the lack of it over many years, has led to a position where we have one of the most energy rich nations in the world yet you see now that the people are scrambling in order to make sure that the lights stay on," Mr Biswas said.

"This is a remarkable situation."

Newcrest issued a request for a proposal (RFP) into electricity supply for CVO in August, but a 150-megawatt solar plant is far from definite, according to stakeholder relations spokesman James Porteous. 

“[We] have embarked on an energy review project to look at all options,” he said.

Mr Porteous said a solar power option did not necessarily mean Newcrest would build or operate a plant, or the plant had to be co-located with the mine.

“We could end up building or being a cornerstone buyer of electricity from another plant, effectively underwriting its construction,” he said.

“[It] could be constructed somewhere else in NSW, probably somewhere away from farming and where it’s a lot sunnier, just as long as it’s connected to the grid.”

Mr Biswas said solar was a "serious consideration" considering the mine's expected operating life and company representatives had been to Israel and Silicon Valley to inspect the technology.

"One of the things we are considering, in addition to working with the power industry, is ... have we come to the point where solar power becomes a viable option with grid source power to obviously cover the off-peak times when solar power is not being generated?" he said.

"Over time as battery technology develops, there may be an ultimate case where you tack on some batteries to that solar installation and essentially become – you will always be part of the grid – but you essentially become independent or largely independent from the grid."

RFP submissions closed on September 18. 


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