Goldcorp, Inc., a Canadian gold production company, has set a large goal for itself: to create the first all-electric underground mine in Canada.
The company is currently mining several hours from Toronto, tunneling through the earth to create what it hopes is one of the most sustainable mines yet, called Borden. The mine, slated to start producing in 2019, is projected to run completely off energy from the electrical grid, as opposed to the traditional mining energy of choice: diesel.
According to financialpost.com, in choosing a mine to experiment with how to wean itself off diesel, the Borden project made sense because of its small size and its location in Ontario, where a cap and trade program came into effect earlier this year. The program sets a limit on a company’s greenhouse gas emissions, above which they need to purchase credits at auctions.
Mines are notoriously unsustainable, energy intensive and harmful to the environment, but many mining companies have taken steps towards a cleaner future. In 2015, German company Cronimet Mining Power Solutions built a solar-diesel hybrid power plant at the megawatt scale at Cronimet Chrome SA Ltd.’s Thabazimbi chromium mine in South Africa. The plant reduces diesel consumption through the integration of a photovoltaic power plant. The engineering requirements are far higher in such a scenario than in a traditional grid-connected power plant, however.
Solar power is a tool in the mining industry. In 2014, SunEdison signed an agreement with Antofagasta Minerals SA to run a 69.5 mW photovoltaic power project at its Los Pelambres copper mine in Chile. The plant already used wind energy and planned to introduce hydro power. By the end of the year, 30% of the mines energy would come from renewable sources.