Canada’s remote north shares insights into viability of different energy sources for mining

With limited infrastructure in northern Canada, capital and operating costs of mining and processing operations can be expensive. This raises the threshold for economic viability. For new projects, getting the energy source right can make a difference.

In this Mining Magazine article, Fortune Minerals CEO Robin Goad discusses his views on the energy challenges for the NICO cobalt-gold-bismuth-copper project. The integrated project includes a mine, mill and concentrator in the Northwest Territories and a hydrometallurgical refinery near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

Goad believes hydrocarbon-based systems are currently the most efficient energy systems, but he says that renewable energy is becoming more competitive.

“Natural gas is a less expensive and viable alternative to diesel but requires 12-month reliable access from roads or navigable water for their procurement and delivery. Cryogenic storage is required for LNG use and the gas will dissipate over time, which necessitates frequent recharge,” he said.

“Renewable energy (such as wind, solar and biomass) is becoming more competitive with hydrocarbons …, and will likely become part of the energy mix in the future. Critical for this to occur is the recent development of reliable lithium-ion battery packs for back-up power, enabling renewable energy to be used as baseload. Otherwise wind and solar are not practical with intermittent wind and solar availability.”

Read more to tap into the thinking around assessment of remote site energy options – the full article is here.