Tjiwarl People play key role in new Renewable Energy Project in WA

The Tjiwarl people of the Central Desert Region of Western Australia have just landed a milestone contract with TransAlta and BHP for their brand new clean energy project. Tjiwarl contractor Cundaline Resources will be a part of constructing the world's largest off-grid solar project in WA’s Goldfields. This project will  bring renewable resources to the region and jobs for the local community (NIT, 2022).

Solar farm in Australia. Courtesy of PV Magazine, 2021.

The solar and battery storage system will supply power to the BHP Nickel West Mt Keith and Leinster operations 350km north of Kalgoorlie. This will include a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith, a 10.7 MW solar farm and a 10.1 MW battery at Leinster - all integrated into TransAlta’s Northern Goldfields remote power grid. These solar farms will replace power currently supplied by diesel and gas, resulting in an estimated reduction of 54,000 tonnes of CO2-e per annum (NIT, 2022).

In an interview with Resources Review (2022), BHP Nickel West Asset President Jessica Farrell commented on the importance of BHP working closely with the Tjiwarl Traditional Owners for this project:

“It is very exciting that, following years of close engagement with the Tjiwarl Native Title Holders, our project has contracted the services of a local Aboriginal business, boosting opportunities for people in the local community and across the northern Goldfields.”

Cundaline Resources has been given the primary civil contractor role in the project by TransAlta’s contractor, Juwi. They are an Aboriginal owned business, whose owners include members of the Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation. Cundaline Resources Managing Director and Tjiwarl Traditional Owner, Brenden Taylor, has welcomed the opportunity of involving Traditional Owners in this project (BHP, 2022). 

In an interview with the National Indigenous Times (2022), Brenden Taylor discussed the importance of this project for the Tjiwarl people:

“This is the first ever Tjiwarl contractor to get a significant-size contract…There will be up to 15 people working on it to start off with. Once you get a presence on site, it will lead to more sustainable, long-term work.”

The Northern Goldfield Solar Project is TransAlta’s first renewable energy project in Australia, and it will form an important part of their Clean Electricity Growth plan. Construction is due to start this coming November, and according to BHP the project will create over 100 jobs for the local community (Resources Review, 2022). 

At Yarn, we love supporting and sharing news about Indigenous owned businesses and their achievements. So, we couldn’t wait to share the incredible news of Indigenous owned business Cundaline Resources working on such a large scale project, especially one that will help protect our planet. We hope that this project will create more opportunities for environmentally oriented Indigenous-owned businesses to get traditional owners involved in the decision making processes for the caring and management of land and sea.