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Rio Tinto and Yindjibarndi Energy have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to explore collaboration opportunities on renewable energy projects on Yindjibarndi Country in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Yindjibarndi Energy is a partnership between Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) and renewable energy company ACEN Corporation.

It was established in June 2023 and will aim to progress the development of major renewable energy projects on Yindjibarndi Ngurra, an area covering about 13,000km2 within the Yindjibarndi Native Title Determination Areas.

Through the new MOU, both entities will study and evaluate opportunities relating to wind, solar and battery energy storage system power.

“Yindjibarndi Ngurra is ideally suited to developing renewable energy generation and our people are encouraged by Rio Tinto’s interest in building this capacity with us,” YAC chief executive Michael Woodley said.

“This will strengthen our existing partnership and provide long term benefits for our community, while also ensuring that we can protect and preserve the areas of cultural, spiritual and environmental significance within our Ngurra.”

Rio Tinto is currently assessing the development of about 300MW of solar projects.

The collaboration opportunities its currently exploring with Yindjibarndi Energy would be complementary to renewable energy developments on Rio Tinto iron ore’s electricity grid, such as a potential solar power generation facility for the supply of energy to Rio Tinto.

“We are focused on repowering our Pilbara operations with renewable energy through the end of this decade and beyond by replacing gas and diesel with clean energy alternatives,” Rio Tinto iron ore chief executive Simon Trott said.

“The Pilbara is blessed with abundant year-round sunshine and strong winds at night, making it one of the most attractive places in the world to harness solar and wind power for energy generation. We’re excited to be deepening our partnership with the Yindjibarndi People through this agreement and look forward to working closely with them.

“We recognise we have a large carbon footprint in the Pilbara and are exploring a number of innovative solutions to help address this, including future collaborations with other Traditional Owner groups in the region.”