Perth: Rio Tinto’s Diavik Diamond Mine is set to construct the largest solar power facility within Canada’s territories, featuring a vast array of over 6,600 solar panels. This innovative project will generate around 4,200 megawatt-hours of carbon-free electricity each year, catering to the mine’s energy needs.
During the mine’s closure work, extending until 2029, the solar power plant will contribute up to 25% of Diavik’s power requirements, while the mine’s commercial production is expected to conclude in early 2026.
Distinguished by bi-facial panels, the facility will harness not only direct sunlight but also the sunlight reflected off the snow that blankets Diavik for much of the year. This implementation is projected to curtail diesel consumption at the site by approximately one million liters annually, resulting in a reduction of 2,900 tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions, equivalent to offsetting the emissions produced by 630 cars.
Angela Bigg, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Diavik Diamond Mine, expressed enthusiasm about the venture, stating, “I am delighted that we will be significantly increasing our renewable power generation with the largest solar power plant in Canada’s northern territories at the Diavik Diamond Mine. 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.”
The project has garnered financial backing from various sources, including CAN$3.3 million from the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Large Emitters GHG Reducing Investment Grant program and CAN$600,000 from the Government of Canada’s Clean Electricity Investment Tax Credit.
As part of Rio Tinto’s broader decarbonization strategy, which aims to cut Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions across all operations by 2050, the Diavik solar power plant aligns with the company’s commitment to sustainable energy practices.
Construction of the solar power plant is slated to commence in the coming weeks, with full operational status anticipated in the first half of 2024. Additionally, Diavik is collaborating with local authorities and community partners to explore how its renewable energy infrastructure can continue benefiting the region after the mine’s closure.