Australian energy generator and supplier AGL has secured the right to develop, own and operate a 250MW pumped hydro energy storage project at Hillgrove Resources’s Kanmantoo copper mine in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills, about 50km south-west of Adelaide. The mine has been in operation since 2010, following initial production from 1970 to 1976.
AGL Executive General Manager of Wholesale Markets Richard Wrightson says the signing of binding agreements is the start of a multi-stage process, including the lodgement of a development application in 2020.
“If we proceed and the project is approved, it would be an important addition to our technology mix in South Australia, where we have significant wind and thermal generation,” he says.
“It would help us to meet the changing needs of the South Australian energy market, in which energy storage assets are likely to be needed to provide dispatchable capacity as renewables generation increases over coming years.
“If all approvals are received, we expect the project to be complete and operating by 2024.”
AGL will buy the land required for the project from Hillgrove shortly after a final investment decision, which is expected following the completion of processing at Kanmantoo as early as this year.
Hillgrove Resources CEO Steve McClare says the project will benefit the state, which already has a strong reputation for successful renewable energy generation and storage projects.
“The trust, support and growth of the community around Kanmantoo has been deeply valued by us and we are pleased to have found a solution that will continue to bring economic benefits, not just to the local community, but to South Australia more broadly,” he says.
South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy CEO Rebecca Knol says Hillgrove should be commended for its creative and forward-thinking approach to post-open-pit mining.
“This solution is one that takes advantage of the unique topography and geology and will provide an ongoing economic contribution to South Australia,” she says.
“This is a company that had gone above and beyond legal requirements throughout the life of the mine and again they are raising the bar post-closure.
“Hillgrove provides a real example of the positive contributions mining companies can make to the communities in which they operate.”
South Australia leads the nation in the uptake of wind and rooftop solar, with renewable sources accounting for more than 50 per cent of the electricity generated there. It is also the home to ‘the world’s biggest battery’, installed by Elon Musk’s company Tesla at Neoen’s Hornsdale wind farm in the state’s Mid North in December 2017.