South32 converts first coal-fired boiler to natural gas at Worsley Alumina

Worsley Alumina operation in WA.
Worsley Alumina operation in WA.

South32 (ASX:S32) has converted the first of its coal-fired boilers to natural gas to help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at Worsley Alumina in southwest WA.

In alumina production, boilers are essential for the generation of steam which is used in the refining process.

Work to convert the first boiler began in May 2023 and operations began in late September. Conversion of a second boiler is planned for 2024.

The conversion of Worsley Alumina’s boilers supports South32’s medium-term target to reduce GHG emissions by 50% (from 2021 levels) by 2035 and the company’s longer-term goal to achieve net zero operational greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Worsley Alumina vice president of operations Erwin Schaufler commented on the conversion.

“We expect the conversion will reduce Worsley Alumina’s operational GHG emissions by up to 208kt of CO2-e per year, or around 5.5%, supporting South32’s broader emissions reductions goals and targets,” he said.

“The use of natural gas at Worsley Alumina remains an interim step, as we pursue longer-term energy transition solutions focused on electrification and renewable energy.

“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.”

In addition, the conversion of the coal fired boilers to natural gas boilers aligns with the WA Government’s coal exit timeline and reduces the impact of local coal supply challenges.