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Australian natural gas and electricity company, APA, has revealed plans for a 88MW solar farm at Mica Creek in Mount Isa.

APA has reached Final Investment Decision (FID) to build the 44MW stage one of the Mica Creek Solar Farm with an investment of more than $80 million, which is underpinned by a new 15-year solar offtake agreement with existing APA customer and leading zinc miner, MMG Dugald River (MMG), to supply renewable energy.

APA also entered into a 32-year lease agreement with the Queensland Government to locate the solar farm on a site near APA’s Diamantina Power Station Complex. 

The first stage of the solar farm is expected to be operational by early 2023, while APA is in advanced discussions with a number of customers to commit to the development of stage two.

APA CEO and Managing Director, Rob Wheals, said the FID and solar offtake agreement with MMG reflects APA’s commitment to providing affordable, reliable and low emissions power to this minerals -rich region of Queensland.

“The Mica Creek Solar Farm will deliver lower emissions power underpinned by the reliability of APA’s gas-fired power, while reducing the average cost and emissions of power across Mount Isa,” Mr Wheals said.

“This solar agreement is the result of us working closely with MMG to ensure we meet their needs as a valued customer, so they can in turn continue to support a growing and leading zinc operation in Queensland.

“APA has been working with Economic Development Queensland in relation to a lease to support the solar farm, and is very pleased to work with the Queensland Government to support the ongoing development of the North West Minerals Province.”

APA’s solar offtake agreement has been negotiated at a commercially competitive tariff, consistent with utility solar pricing, and will reduce the average delivered cost of power for MMG.

APA will also support MMG with its energy needs with the provision of firming gas power from its Diamantina Power Station complex, under its existing contract.

APA has invested more than $1 billion in energy assets in the North West Minerals Province.

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