In a stride towards environmentally-friendly operations, South32’s Worsley Alumina facility in Western Australia has successfully transitioned the first of its coal-fired boilers to natural gas. This initiative is part of a broader agenda to mitigate the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the site.
Situated near the towns of Boddington and Collie, Worsley Alumina encompasses a bauxite mine and an alumina refinery. The latter processes bauxite into alumina powder, a critical component for aluminium production, which is then dispatched to global smelting destinations including South32’s Hillside and Mozal smelters in South Africa and Mozambique respectively.
Central to the alumina refining process, the boilers generate the requisite steam. The conversion of the boiler to natural gas commenced in May, with the boiler becoming operational towards the end of September. The official handover is slated for late October.
South32 accentuates that this transformation is projected to curtail the operational GHG emissions at Worsley Alumina by up to 208,000 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide equivalent, amounting to a reduction of approximately 5.5%.
South32 Worsley Alumina operations VP Erwin Schaufler elaborated in a press release.
“The conversion of the first boiler to natural gas is an important step in our path towards lower-carbon energy sources at Worsley Alumina, aligning with the Western Australian government’s coal exit timeline.”
This move also aligns with South32’s overarching ambition of slashing operational GHG emissions across all its operations by 50% from the 2021 benchmark, aiming to reach this milestone by 2035. The ultimate goal being achieving net-zero operational GHG emissions by 2050.
Schaufler elucidates that utilizing natural gas is a provisional measure at Worsley Alumina, as South32 explores more enduring energy transition strategies centered around electrification and renewable energy.
“Worsley Alumina has been part of the South West community for nearly 40 years. As we continue our work to decarbonise our operations, we are working closely with government, community and industry stakeholders to support a just transition for Collie, its people and businesses, and ensure a strong future for the town and broader region,” Schaufler added.
Looking ahead, South32 is setting sights on converting a second coal-fired boiler to natural gas at Worsley Alumina in 2024, further cementing its commitment to reduce the carbon footprint.