Biomass’ potential to power the mining industry set to be demonstrated

Yorke Biomass Energy is building a demonstration plant in South Australia to demonstrate how a straw burning generator can provide miners with a competitively priced power source for the first 10-20 MW of power.

It is hoped that the new project will eventually allow remote mining projects in farming areas to access their baseload electricity from straw powered biomass plants.

The demonstration plant is expected to be operational next year. It is situated in Yorke Peninsula, a major grain-growing region and a vital centre of Australia’s mining industry.

Terry Kallis, chairman of Yorke Biomass Energy, told the Australian Resources and Energy Investment Conference in Adelaide that the new technology would be ideal for new mining projects in farming areas.

“This energy approach provides a mutually beneficial outcome for mining and farming communities and increases local economic activity through the collection, transport and storage of biomass fuel stock,” Kallis said.

“There is a substantial stubble resource within a 50km radius of the proposed plant site and the stubble has a preferred moisture content of just 15 per cent.”

Dubbed the Ardrossan plant due its location, the new facility is modelled on existing plants operated by Acciona in Spain. It is expected that the plant will be able to process 90,000 tonnes of straw from local farms each year.

“These power plants present opportunity for mutually exclusive feedstock supply agreements and profit sharing arrangements with local farmers. An open book process can be used to negotiate their supply price per tonne.

“The Ardrossan plant may also have the capacity to supply local domestic customers in the broader Ardrossan footprint.”

The demonstration plant is located close to a range of mining projects, including the proposed Rex Minerals copper and gold project, and the adjacent Eyre Peninsula which is an emerging mining hub. Indeed, the whole of South Australia is a major producer of copper, uranium and zircon, as well as iron ore, silver, industrial minerals and zinc.

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