The $40 million Maxwell Solar Farm, an initiative of Malabar Resources, will occupy part of a mine site owned by Malabar Coal near Muswellbrook. The project will create up to 50 construction jobs and generate enough power for about 9,350 homes, saving up to 53,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, the NSW planning authority said in its consent decision.
The project will also assist in “transitioning the electricity sector from coal and gas-fired power stations to renewable energy”, the government said in the decision, handed down in August.
“It’s great to see the NSW Government getting behind our innovative and creative approach to using this land,” Malabar Resources chairman Wayne Seabrook said.
“The Maxwell Solar Project is another example of our commitment to the local area, the local economy, and above all, to co-exist with a wide range of industries and activities.”
The project will have an array of 125,000 solar panels, with construction to start within the next six months.
Federal Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon welcomed the go-ahead. “The approval is a welcome thing, we will need more renewables and gas in the system as coal-fired generators run out of puff,” he said.
The state planning department said it received two public submissions regarding the environmental impact, both supporting the project.
“The department’s Assessment Report acknowledges that large-scale solar projects could help to reduce reliance on fossil fuels, thereby contributing to reductions in air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” it said.
“Malabar Resources is a great example of the ‘fast fish’ mining companies I’ve been speaking about at IMARC for the last couple of years. They’re innovative and adaptive; pivoting to take advantage of outside-the-box ideas like the Maxwell Solar Farm. The digital business management system from Pulse enables Malabar to diversify into an entirely new business model and resource type without needing a whole new system. All business information is fully integrated and available in real-time with Pulse. Diversified business ventures are easily consolidated into a single corporate overview.”
[RIGHT] Ash Bosworth of Pulse presenting his talk ‘Holistic Business Optimization v. The Silo Mentality’ – the old school versus the fast fish in the mining industry – at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC 2019) in Melbourne. You can get a copy of the white paper from here.
The 25MW solar farm will sit on part of the former Drayton coal mine site which was shut down in 2016. It was sold to Malabar by Anglo American in 2018. The site is near to the Liddell and Bayswater power stations, which means ready access to energy infrastructure.
“With an annual energy generation of 60 GWh, the Maxwell Solar Farm has the capacity to generate energy for about 10,000 NSW homes – nearly all the homes in Muswellbrook and Singleton combined,” Mr Seabrook said.
Malabar uses the Pulse ERP to manage its Muswellbrook coal-mining business in pre-production. Deploying the same system for its solar farm operations at the same site has followed from there, according to Ash Bosworth, managing director and CEO of Pulse Mining Systems.
Malabar expects to spend $39.35million to develop the solar farm. It has committed to use water low in salts and heavy metals and observe rules on maintaining vegetation on the site.