Australian energy infrastructure business APA Group (ASX:APA) has unveiled its plan to build an 88 megawatt solar farm at Mica Creek in Mount Isa.

The plan comes after APA reached a final investment decision of more than $80 million to undertake the build-out of stage one works comprising a 44 MW solar farm, underpinned by a new 15-year solar off-take agreement with existing APA customer and zinc miner MMG Dugald River (MMG) to supply renewable energy.

APA has also entered into a 32-year lease agreement with the Queensland Government to locate the solar farm on a site near APA’s Diamantina Power Station Complex.

The first stage of the solar farm is expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2023, while “advanced discussions with a number of customers to commit to the development of stage two,” the company said in an announcement on Monday.


Lower emissions power underpinned by ‘gas-fired power’

APA managing director and CEO Rob Wheals said the final investment decision (FID) and solar offtake agreement with MMG reflects its commitment to providing affordable, reliable and low emissions power to the minerals rich region of Queensland.

“The Mica Creek Solar Farm will deliver lower emissions power underpinned by the reliability of APA’s gas-fired power, while reducing the average cost and emissions of power across Mount Isa,” he said.

“This solar agreement is the result of us working closely with MMG to ensure we meet their needs as a valued customer, so they can in turn continue to support a growing and leading zinc operation in Queensland.”

Wheals said the company had been working with Economic Development Queensland in regards to a lease to support the solar farm.

APA will also support MMG with its energy needs with the provision of firming gas power from its Diamantina Power Station complex, under its existing contract.