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Rio Tinto (RIO) to Triple Solar Capacity at Weipa Mine

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Rio Tinto Plc (RIO - Free Report) recently announced that it has partnered with leading global energy producer, EDL. Per the deal, EDL will expand an existing solar installation at Rio Tinto’s Weipa mine in Queensland. Australia. EDL will add a 4 MW solar power generating capacity and 4 MW/4 MWh of battery storage, which will effectively triple the supply of clean, reliable energy to Rio Tinto’s bauxite mine operations in Weipa and the remote township. This move is in sync with Rio Tinto’s focus on lowering its carbon footprint across its operations and marks a step toward its goal of attaining net zero emissions by 2050.

Rio Tinto’s Weipa operations includes three bauxite mines (East Weipa, Andoom and Amrun), processing facilities, shiploaders, an export wharf, two ports, power stations, a rail network and ferry terminals. The development of Amrun, its newest mine that was completed in 2018, has extended the life of the Weipa bauxite operations by several decades.

In 2015, Rio Tinto had announced the launch of the Weipa Solar plant, which was the largest solar facility at an off-grid Australian mine site at that time. It was a pathbreaking project, which exhibited the viability of renewable energy systems in remote locations. EDL will now build, own and operate a new 4 MW solar plant and 4 MW/4 MWh of battery storage at Weipa that will complement the existing 1.6 MW solar farm. Work on the project is expected to be completed by late next year.

Once operational, the combined 4 MW solar capacity and 4 MW/4 MWh battery will have an annual capacity of 11 gigawatt hours of energy. Combined with upgrades to the existing Weipa power generation network, it will effectively cut down Weipa Operations’ diesel consumption by around 7 million litres per year. It will also help lower its annual carbon dioxide emissions by about 20,000 tons — the equivalent of taking more than 3,750 cars off the road.

Rio Tinto has earmarked approximately $1 billion in investments over the next five years to get its operations down to net zero emissions by 2050. Earlier this month, the company announced that it has teamed up with Caterpillar, Inc. (CAT - Free Report) to develop zero-emissions autonomous haul trucks for use at Gudai-Darri, which is Rio Tinto’s most technically advanced iron ore mine in the Pilbara region, Western Australia. Earlier in June, the company announced that it will deploy the world’s first fully autonomous water truck at its Gudai-Darri mine also in partnership with Caterpillar.

Price Performance

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In the past year, shares of Rio Tinto have gained 7.5%, compared with the industry’s growth of 9.0%.

Zacks Rank & Stocks to Consider

Rio Tinto currently has a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

Some better-ranked stocks in the basic materials space are Nucor Corporation (NUE - Free Report) and The Chemours Company (CC - Free Report) .

Nucor has a projected earnings growth rate of around 508% for the current year. The company’s shares have soared 112% in a year. It currently sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Chemours has an expected earnings growth rate of around 86.4% for the current year. The company’s shares have gained 39% in the past year. It currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

In-Depth Zacks Research for the Tickers Above

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Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) - free report >>

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Nucor Corporation (NUE) - free report >>

The Chemours Company (CC) - free report >>

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