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Miners developing renewable-energy ventures at BC mineral projects assured of govt support

Miners developing renewable-energy ventures at BC mineral projects assured of govt support
October 23
09:37 2015

British Columbia’s economy had historically been firmly rooted in mining and, with a slew of new projects progressing through the permitting stage, the provincial government was ready for them to plug into its vast grid, brim-full of renewable electricity, and to support miners’ efforts to implement renewables projects at their mine developments.

British Columbia Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett on Thursday told an audience attending the Energy and Mines summit, in Toronto, that mining accounted for about 21% of the province’s current electricity load and that, while there was a province-wide capacity surplus, the province had pledged to support renewable-energy projects proposed by new mine developers.

Since 2011, the province had seen 11 new mines open and seven life-of-mine extensions through expansions. Bennett noted that there currently were more than 20 proposed mines going through their respective environmental-impact assessments, as well as about 20 natural gas projects on the books.

He highlighted Seabridge Gold’s proposal to build about three hydroelectric projects that would generate extra power for the massive Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell project, 65 km north-west of the town of Stewart.

Bennett pointed out that the provincial government had put a prorenewables regulatory framework in place. One such example was the Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) fund, which had helped finance British Columbia’s only photovoltaic project – the Sun Mine solar power project, built on reclaimed land of the shuttered Sullivan mine, which was donated by diversified miner Teck Resources.

Since its inception in 2008, the ICE fund had provided some C$77-million for 62 clean energy projects across the province.

RENEWABLE INVESTMENT

Bennett stated that British Columbia would strive to meet a target of at least 66% of new energy growth coming through ‘green measures’, which would add to the current 93% of the province’s energy mix currently being sourced from renewable sources. The province was endowed with terrain and resources amenable to significant hydropower generation schemes, mainly based on the Columbia and Peace rivers, with a small fraction of the energy mix being supplied by gas turbines in strategic remote locations.

The province spent about C$2.4-billion a year on capital investment in generation and transmission, with the latest project being the 11 000 MW Peace river Site C project. Bennett noted that hydropower made sense in British Columbia, as could be seen through the Site C project.

The third project on the Peace river, Site C would result in a similar capacity gain as its predecessors, for only about 5% of the environmental footprint.

“This is the last large dam being built in British Columbia, as we have legislated ourselves into that corner,” he quipped. Bennett placed a lot of emphasis on the province’s distribution network, which ensured that nearly all new mining projects could draw on the region’s abundant renewable energy. “We don’t want mines to use diesel, unless it is the only option,” he stressed.

PRIVATE PRODUCTION

In British Columbia, private renewable power accounted for about one-quarter of the energy mix, up from only 4% in 2001.

From a legislative standpoint, the province had enacted the Clean Energy Act to support the development of alternative renewable technologies.

Bennett pointed to solar power projects starting to get off the ground, as well as early stage tidal and geothermal projects being supported by the provincial government.

The province had also previously implemented two ‘energy-call programmes’, through which independent power producers were invited to produce up to 15 MW of electricity, as long as it was sold to power utility BC Hydro.

Further, the province had introduced measures to improve its economic sustainability, including policies mandating the use of cleaner fuels and greenhouse-gas reductions, mandated renewable and low-carbon requirements, instituting the first North American revenue-neutral carbon tax, as well as formulating the Climate Action Plan (CAP) and the CAP 2.0

Via: Mining Weekly

Picture by David Irvine

 



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Pablo Crespo

Pablo Crespo

Journalist and Corporate Communications Professional

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