The Raglan nickel mine is in the far north of Canada; it is exposed to extreme, Arctic conditions. It is not connected to the province’s hydro-grid or the natural gas network; energy is the mine’s second largest budget item.
The operation has become an energy innovator through its wind power project; it is in a favourable position, on a plateau 600m high, with few trees in the surrounding area. The project will eventually allow a significant reduction in diesel consumption and dependence on fossil fuels, and a major decrease in GHG emissions. A few years ago, Raglan began to measure the wind and investigate the engineering requirements and potential environmental impact of a wind turbine installation. We also undertook consultations with local communities and other stakeholders.
As Canada’s first industrial-scale wind power facility with storage, the project is being implemented in 2 phases, to test whether the technology can work under harsh Arctic conditions and reduce the financial risk attached to a project of this scale.
The first stage involves the gradual implementation of a wind farm. In the summer of 2014, we will build wind energy storage facilities and an Enercon wind turbine. If successful, the second stage will see the construction of 3 to 5 wind turbines during 2016. Once completed, the facility is expected to reduce Raglan’s diesel consumption by over 50%. During periods of high wind, power surpluses will produce hydrogen (via electrolysis of water), which will be stored in compressed gas tanks. When the local power grid for the mine needs additional energy, the hydrogen will be used as fuel.
The governments of Canada and Quebec are committed to help mining companies to improve their environmental practices and both are supporting the project financially. If the pilot produces the expected results, the expertise and technologies will be exported to 14 local Nunavik villages.
During a recent stay at the Raglan mine site, the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper congratulated us for our leadership in eco-energy.