Rio Tinto solar PV plant to meet 25% of Canadian diamond mine’s electricity demand

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A 1.6MW solar install at Rio Tinto’s Weipa in Queensland. Image: Rio Tinto.

Mining company Rio Tinto has announced a plan to build a solar power plant in a diamond mine in the Northwest Territories in Canada.

The solar power plant will feature more than 6,600 solar modules and provide up to 25% of the Diavik diamond mine’s electricity. The plant will be equipped with bi-facial panels to generate power from light that reflects off the snow that covers the mine for most of the year.

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Construction of the solar power plant will start in the coming weeks and will be fully operational in the first half of 2024. The company did not provide the capacity of the solar PV installation, but said it would generate around 4.2GWh of electricity annually.

Currently, the mine features a wind-diesel hybrid power facility that has a capacity of 55.4MW.

“Through its wind-diesel hybrid power facility, Diavik is already a leader in cold climate renewable technology and this important project reinforces our dedication to reducing our carbon footprint. I am delighted that we will be significantly increasing our renewable power generation with the largest solar power plant in Canada’s Northern Territories,” said president and chief operating officer of the Diavik Diamond Mine Angela Bigg.

Rio Tinto added that the project had secured CA$3.3 million from the government of the Northwest Territories’ Large Emitters GHG Reducing Investment Grant programme, and CA$600,000 from the government of Canada’s Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit.

“This collaboration exemplifies our commitment to facilitating sustainable development while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Northwest Territories and should be a signal of how our economic development can continue to position us as leaders in these spaces,” said Caroline Wawzonek, finance minister of the Northwest Territories government.

Last year, Rio Tinto’s subsidiary Richard Bay Minerals signed a corporate power purchase agreement (CPPA) with renewables company Voltalia to procure power from a 148MW solar plant in South Africa’s Limpopo province.

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