Rio Tinto plans to build the largest solar power plant in the North at the Diavik Diamond Mine to supply its needs until closure, according to a recent press release.
The plant will feature 6,600 advanced bi-facial solar panels, capturing both direct sunlight and reflected light from the snowy terrain, a crucial aspect due to Diavik’s location. This design aims to generate around 4,200 megawatt-hours of clean electricity annually, significantly reducing the mine’s carbon footprint.
While the mine is being shut down, until 2029, the plant will supply up to 25% of Diavik’s electricity, reducing reliance on traditional sources like diesel generators, cutting diesel consumption by one million liters per year, and curbing emissions by 2,900 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to removing 630 cars’ emissions.
The project received substantial government support, with $3.3 million from the Large Emitters GHG Reducing Investment Grant program of the Northwest Territories. This program sets aside 12% of the carbon tax payments from diamond mines in a fund for renewable projects of this sort.
The project also received an additional $600,000 from Canada’s Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit.
Construction will begin in the coming weeks and the plant is expected to be fully operational by the first half of 2024, according to the press release. The mine’s commercial production is expected to end in early 2026. Diavik collaborates with the GNWT and community partners to ensure that the renewable energy infrastructure benefits the region after closure.