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Northern Minerals (ASX:NTU) receives additional $1.6M from placement
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  • Rare earth miner Northern Minerals (NTU) has entered an agreement with Soluna Australia for the provision of renewable energy infrastructure
  • Soluna will use the opportunity to install and test its modular, rack-mounted energy storage system (ESS) in preparation for taking the system to market
  • In return, Northern Minerals will have a renewable energy system installed at no startup cost to power its Browns Range accommodation camp
  • Soluna will be recompensed via a power purchase agreement, which will be cheaper for NTU than the current diesel power generation system
  • This system of no-cost installation and power purchase plan is to be adopted for all future Soluna ESS contracts
  • If Soluna and NTU strike the right balance, this experiment could be a blueprint for solar ESS across Australia and the globe
  • Northern Minerals is up 4.5 per cent to 2.3 cents per share

Rare earth miner Northern Minerals (NTU) has entered an agreement with Soluna Australia for the provision of renewable energy infrastructure at the Browns Range mining camp in WA.

Clean energy

Soluna — a 50-50 partnership between Lithium Australia (LIT) and Chinese company DLG Energy — will use the opportunity to install and test its modular, rack-mounted energy storage system (ESS) and photovoltaic power generator in preparation for taking the system to market.

In return, Northern Minerals will have a renewable energy system installed at no cost to power its Browns Range accommodation camp. Soluna will be recompensed via a power purchase agreement, which will be cheaper for NTU than the current diesel power generation system, and with a much smaller carbon footprint.

This system of no-cost installation and power purchase plan is to be adopted for all future Soluna ESS contracts.

Soluna will employ lithium-ferro-phosphate batteries, a type of lithium-ion battery known for its high safety standards ability to perform well in hot environments, longevity and low maintenance requirements.

The eventual plan is for the entire Browns Range operation — including the camp and processing plant — to make the switch from expensive diesel generation to a cheap, efficient and green solar ESS.

Pathway to market

The next shipment of Soluna's ESS products is due to arrive in September, and will be used in part for the Browns Range installation.

Soluna will concurrently put the system to market, with sales commencing from June.

There has already been strong interest in the solar ESS, given its zero startup costs for homes and businesses — but there's also one other feature which has proven compelling to potential customers.

The system offers built-in financial tracking, as it includes a function whereby consumers can monitor the performance of the ESS by way of a web-based portal.

This means the end-user can assess usage and savings in real-time — a feature particularly advantageous to homes and businesses wary of their bottom lines.

In terms of budgeting and expenditure, the system offers considerable upside compared to the traditional system of receiving a bill after the fact for an unknown level of power consumption.

Circular battery economy

The Soluna system is a cornerstone of Lithium Australia's larger goal to create a circular battery economy.

LIT is continuing research and development of its proprietary lithium extraction processes for all lithium silicates — including those from old batteries, mine tailings, fand unused fines from spodumene processing.

The company is essentially seeking to vertically integrate lithium recycling, extraction and processing to create a green, sustainable and ethical supply of battery storage solutions to the global market.

The Soluna system will play a part in LIT's grander strategy from the point of manufacture right through to end-of-life management, with spent products sent back into the battery supply chain.

Northern Minerals will be the first beneficiary of this novel approach to clean power provision.

If Soluna and NTU strike the right balance, this experiment could be a blueprint for remote mining operations — and solar ESS — across Australia and the globe.

Northern Minerals is up 4.5 per cent to 2.3 cents per share as at 3:35 pm AEST.

NTU by the numbers
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