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Lynas Rare Earths signs on for innovative Western Power scheme

Lynas Rare Earths has signed on as a partner for Western Power’s innovative Eastern Goldfields Load Permissive Scheme (ELPS), which helps resources companies secure a vital supply of affordable and reliable energy.

In developing and implementing ELPS, Western Power is addressing the long-standing network capacity issues faced by resources companies in WA’s Eastern Goldfields region – a vast area of the State which is serviced by a single 220kV line.

Lynas is the second partner to join the Scheme, following the signing of Norton Gold Fields in March this year. Norton now utilises ELPS across three of its mines.

Western Power CEO Ed Kalajzic said ELPS demonstrated innovate thinking in providing customer focused solutions for larger businesses in the region to access power that ordinarily would not be available through traditional network solutions.

“The development of ELPS followed feedback from industry and the community over a number of years. In 2019 we made a commitment to address supply issues in the region. Now in 2021, I’m delighted to say that we have delivered,” he said.

“ELPS delivers an affordable service to our local mining customers – it is an excellent example of the initiatives we have in place to support our customers to achieve their business goals by ensuring access to affordable and reliable power.

“It enables access to network capacity when it’s available and curtails supply when it is not, using an autonomous process managed by our network operations centre. When required, ELPS customers are automatically notified that they need to reduce their ELPS load within set times, ensuring other existing customer services are not put at risk.”

Lynas Rare Earths VP Upstream Kam Leung said Lynas welcomed the opportunity to take part in ELPS.

"We’re excited to be building a new Rare Earths Processing Facility in Kalgoorlie and we are pleased to support Western Power’s efforts to provide additional energy capacity to industry in the Goldfields,” Mr Leung said.

Mr Kalajzic said that as part of the scheme, Western Power refurbished transformers and constructed an 80-metre tower at Black Flag to increase the reliability of network communications. Additionally, a 22-metre communications mast will be installed at Lynas Rare Earths’ Mt Weld site.

Large volume power users not connected to ELPS in the Eastern Goldfields commonly utilise some degree of diesel-generated power to ensure consistent supply, but ELPS customers are ensured access to cleaner power in lieu of costly, emissions-intensive diesel generators.  While there are some upfront connection costs, these are outweighed by the projected future savings associated with reduced on-site generation and opportunities for integration of renewable energy sources.

“We’re excited to be at the forefront of unlocking access to large-scale renewable energy located on the western seaboard. This is extremely important for our customers operating in energy-intensive sectors such as mining,” Mr Kalajzic said.