Solar plant to cut Agrimin costs

POTASH contender Agrimin expects to cut costs at its wholly-owned Mackay sulphate of potash project through the use of a solar-powered water heating system at the project, on the Lake Mackay salt lake in Western Australia.
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Potash minerals

Andrew Hobbs

The system, designed by Danish renewable energy specialist Aalborg, could meet up to 70% of the total energy needs of Agrimin's planned processing facility, largely based around the heating of water to 55 degrees Celsius for use in mineral processing.

A scoping study for the project completed in August last year determined the facility would need two 10 megawatt gas-fired water heaters, supported by a gas-fired power plant, assuming they would be powered via gas from a spur to the Amadeus gas pipeline under a build-own-operate contract.

Agrimin CEO Mark Savich told MNN  the BOO contract would likely have an annual cost of $A12 million, which the company was keen to avoid.  

"There will be a tariff cost to the solar power, but it is likely to be lower," he said.

"Agrimin's water heating needs are well suited to the use of solar thermal energy and the company should benefit in the long term from a low dependence on fossil fuels."

Excluding the pipeline spur, the scoping study predicted total development capital costs would be $US259.4 million for all facilities on site.

Agrimin has set out a production target of 370,000 tonnes of SoP per annum over a 20-year project life, operating at an all-in sustaining cash cost of $256 per tonne.

The company will also consider the use of renewable energy to run the SoP process plant and infrastructure, he said, with the prefeasibility study due by October.

The project has been appealing to investors, who have pushed the share price 500% higher, from A15c in March 2016 to be unchanged at 60c today.