Rio Tinto pledges $600m to boost miner’s renewable ambitions
Rio Tinto plans to invest a further $600m in renewable energy assets across the iron ore-rich Pilbara region of Western Australia.
The multinational miner is aiming to halve its carbon emissions by the end of the decade, and has commited $7.5bn to reducing its environmental footprint.
The investment will fund the construction of two 100MW solar power farms, alongside 200MWh of on-grid battery storage in the Pilbara by 2026.
This is in addition to the 34MW of solar power installed at the recently commissioned Gudai-Darri iron ore mine.
These new projects combined are expected to abate around 300,000 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to a 10 per cent reduction in total Scope 1 and 2 emissions from Rio Tinto’s iron ore business in the Pilbara based on 2021 levels.
It will also reduce gas costs by approximately $55m per year at current prices by displacing around 30 per cent of the company’s current gas consumption in the Pilbara.
Rio Tinto’s Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott said, “The Pilbara is extremely well-positioned to take advantage of renewable power with land, access to people, and abundant wind and solar resources.
“Our Pilbara electricity grid is the largest privately-owned grid in Australia, ensuring that we have the initial infrastructure required to enable a transition to renewable energy.”
Rio Tinto looks to make amends after scandal
The miner has made headlines consistently this year – with Rio Tinto reporting in a £12.4bn shareholder payout in February, the second largest in the history of the London Stock Exchange.
It also announced plans to cut ties with Russia, which includes its Queensland-based alumina joint venture with Rusal following the invasion of Ukraine.
The company has also been plagued with scandal, publishing a damning review of its workplace culture – which included complaints of widespread racism and bullying, alongside multiple reports of sexual assault.
The review was commissioned after Rio Tinto destroyed a sacred Aboriginal cave system, which sat on top of around £75m worth of high-grade iron ore.
The cave system, in the Juukan Gorge near Pilbara, had shown signs of continues human occupation for more than 46,000 years, before it was blown up in 2020 by the miner.
The miner green lit a new chair and chief executive last December, following the exit of former CEO Jean-Sébastien Jacques and several other executives.
Rio Tinto is now aiming to create a foundation to support cultural projects in Western Australia, as it seeks to heal its reputation following the fallout of the Juukan Gorge controversy.