BHP to expand gas-fired West Australia power station

  • Market: Electricity, Natural gas
  • 17/04/24

Australian resources firm BHP plans to increase power generation at its 154MW Yarnima gas and diesel-fired facility near the Pilbara iron ore mining hub of Newman in Western Australia (WA) state.

The proposal, according to documents filed with WA's Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), will see output increase by 85MW to a total of 239MW through gas reciprocating engines and associated infrastructure with up to 120MW of nominal new capacity to be built in stages.

Peak scope 1 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the project are predicted to be 480,030 t/yr of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e), while scope 3 emissions related to supplying the gas are expected to be 37,260t CO2e/yr.

Power demand at BHP's iron ore operations in the Pilbara is forecast to increase from 150MW currently to 1GW by 2040, as the company reduces its GHG emissions through electrification of its rail and mining fleets and must balance renewables with firmed generation.

The iron ore mining sector is a large-scale producer of Australian GHG emissions through its Pilbara-based operations. Displacing liquid fuels such as diesel, which Australia consumes at an average rate of around 500,000 b/d by electrifying processes and switching to lower CO2-emitting sources such as gas, is expected to trend as Australia's largest polluters meet government mandates. Yarmina currently runs a 35MW diesel-fired temporary power station as part of its installed capacity.

Canadian energy firm TransAlta earlier this year lodged plans to build a new 150MW gas-fired power station for BHP's Nickel West operations in WA's Northern Goldfields region.

WA's domestic market is likely to be short on gas later this decade despite being Australia's largest LNG export state, the Australian Energy Market Operator (Aemo) has warned in its Western Australia Gas Statement of Opportunities. Aemo's modelling released last year shows the closure of WA's state-owned coal-fired power stations will drive increased requirements for gas-fired electricity generation in the next decade.


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