From Old Gold to New Green Power

A Queensland gold mine nearing the end of its mine life, will soon be converted to a 20,000-MWh pumped hydro storage facility.

According to a recent announcement, Evolution Mining, the owner and operator of a gold mine in Queensland, in partnership with advisory firm ICA Partners, proposes to develop a 20,000-MWh pumped hydro storage facility on the site of the open-pit gold mine which is nearing the end of its lifespan.

Evolution and ICA Partners have submitted the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to the Queensland Co-ordinator General’s office for assessment.

The EIS for the Project is a comprehensive study that demonstrates a unique and low impact pathway to convert Mt Rawdon from a gold mine nearing the end of its mine life to a large-scale, long life renewable energy generation and storage asset.

It identifies Mt Rawdon Pumped Hydro as critical in the provision of secure, reliable and clean power to central and southeast Queensland as coal fired generators are progressively retired.

The EIS also demonstrates a significant social benefit in the form of employment, training and regional development for the Wide Bay Burnett region, and the material contribution that the Project can make to Australia’s decarbonisation aspirations and international commitments.

Over AUD7 billion will be invested through the construction phase and establishment of a new power generator, should the Project proceed.

Jake Klein, Executive Chair Evolution Mining, said: “We are very proud that Mt Rawdon will be the first operating gold mine that, upon reaching the end of its mining life, will be repurposed as a significant renewable asset critical to Australia’s clean energy future.

“Mt Rawdon is set to become a 20,000 MWh pumped hydro storage facility capable of powering up to two million Queensland homes every evening, providing essential firming capacity in Queensland’s transition to renewable energy. The recently completed Feasibility Study demonstrated that Mount Rawdon Pumped Hydro is economically and socially attractive and will be the lowest cost pumped hydro generation project per megawatt of capacity in Australia.”

Critical Milestone

“At a time when concerns about the cost of living and energy security are at an all-time high, the Feasibility Study shows that the Project can deliver lower power prices for Queenslanders saving consumers almost $13 billion in its first 20 years of operation. This translates into a one-off $2,700 increase in the average real income of all current residents of Queensland, or approximately $6,400 per household.”

Michael Siede of ICA Partners explained the genesis of the Project: “In 2018, ICA Partners identified that firming capacity was the most strategic component of Australia’s transition to a renewable power grid. This prompted the commencement of a comprehensive national study to determine the most suitable site to develop a pumped hydro energy storage project.”

“Mt Rawdon’s low cost is due to its favourable topography, synergies with the existing mining operation, close proximity to the transmission grid and excellent accessibility. The project is located between Brisbane and the energy intensive industrial hub of Gladstone.”

“This culminated in a vision that was developed collaboratively between Evolution Mining and ICA Partners to convert Mt Rawdon into a pumped hydro facility. The submission of the EIS is a critical milestone in achieving this vision.”