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APA Group has announced that stage two of the Mica Creek Solar Farm in Mount Isa will commence in 2022, following an offtake agreement to supply energy to Mount Isa Mines (MIM).

The announcement comes after APA entered a 15-year solar offtake agreement with MMG Dugald River (MMG) to supply the initial 44MW from stage one of the Mica Creek Solar Farm.

APA has reached a Final Investment Decision (FID) to build stage two of the Mica Creek Solar Farm, doubling the size of the project and taking the total investment for both stages to approximately $150 million.

APA CEO and Managing Director, Rob Wheals, said he was pleased to be able to continue to provide APA’s customers with energy solutions that support the North West Minerals Province with affordable and renewable electricity.

“We have worked closely with MIM to ensure we meet their needs as a valued customer, so they can in turn continue to grow and support the Mount Isa economy and minerals rich North West Minerals Province,” Mr Wheals said.

“This investment will support APA’s vision for a world-leading hybrid energy grid in Mount Isa and our aspiration to support the further increase of renewable energy penetration for the region.

“We now have two major APA customers supporting both stages of the 88MW Mica Creek Solar Farm with agreements to supply renewable electricity to their Mount Isa operations, demonstrating the enthusiasm of customers in the region for integrated energy solutions that can both meet their energy needs and help reduce their operational emissions.

“With supply of renewable energy for the two initial stages now under contract, APA is investigating a potential expansion for a third stage, following strong interest from customers.”

Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Steven Miles, said the speed of the expansion, having only just announced stage one in November 2021, demonstrated the demand from business and industry for renewable energy.

“APA has a long-term, 32-year lease with the Queensland Government for a 198ha site in the North West Minerals Province for stage one and stage two of the solar farm,” Mr Miles said.

“This project will also provide a boost to employment and the local economy, employing around 300 people during peak construction.”

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 MIM.

APA will also support MIM with its energy needs with the provision of firming gas power from its highly efficient Diamantina Power Station complex (DPS).

The Diamantina Power Station complex is one of the most efficient dispatchable power stations in Australia, with emissions intensity about half of the Queensland grid.

APA Group Executive Strategy and Commercial, Julian Peck, said, “APA’s vision for a world-leading hybrid energy grid in Mount Isa can provide the region with affordable, reliable and renewable energy which is in contrast with other proposals for the region.

“Importantly, our aspiration to support further expansion of renewable energy generation can be delivered without government subsidies.”

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

The second stage of the solar farm is co-located on the same site as stage one near APA’s Diamantina Power Station Complex on land which is leased from the Queensland Government.

The Mica Creek Solar Farm is expected to be operational by mid-2023.

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