Dec 15th, 2012
From Bloomberg News
“The four windmills dug into northern Canada’s tundra that power Rio Tinto Group(RIO)’s $5.2 billion Diavik diamond mine are the world’s first designed to work in gusts as cold as 40 degrees below zero.
The mining company has sunk $30 million into wind energy because roads are frozen and closed to diesel fuel deliveries for 10 months a year. Near the opposite pole, in Argentina, Barrick Gold Corp. is testing the highest wind turbine at 4,100 meters (13,450 feet), an altitude almost halfway up Mt. Everest. The machine was designed for low air density and provides 20 percent of a Barrick gold mine’s power on windy days.
“All the big mining companies are studying different types of renewables,” Gil Forer, Ernst & Young LLP’s clean-tech head in New York, said in an interview. They are “very strategic” for an energy-intensive industry, he said.”
The article continues to talk about how using “clean energy” could help to improve the image of corporations that have been “tarnished over decades by workers accidents, fouled rivers and toxic tailings”. Finally, these multi-nationals can improve their image without having to address conditions for workers or the destruction they cause!
“Clean power provides about a third of the energy consumed by London-based Rio Tinto, the world’s second-biggest mining company. Rio, like most competitors, backs up the projects with fossil-fuel generation for when winds die and skies cloud over.
Anglo American, which owns 85 percent of De Beers, the biggest diamond producer, invested about $180 million in low- carbon technologies and gets 23 percent of its energy from clean sources. Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM), having spent about $171 million on hydropower, biodiesel and geothermal power in 2011, uses clean energy at 10 of its 14 mines, spokesman Omar Jabara said.”
But that is just wind energy, where is solar you ask? Fear not, they’re smart enough to exploit everything possible.
As the costs of solar energy come down, large mines present one of the biggest opportunities for solar-panel makers because they use diesel generators on-site, said Tom Werner, president and chief executive officer of SunPower Corp. It’s just the beginning of a market for the solar-panel maker majority owned by Total SA, which expects close to 100 megawatts a year of demand once the market ramps up, he said.
Rio Tinto has installed 20 solar-power plants across the world to study their potential, and Newmont is looking “very seriously” at using solar to cut costs and power its mines in the remote Australian desert. Goldcorp too is working on a feasibility study for a solar project in Nevada.
While Rio Tinto hasn’t made direct investments in clean technology makers, it said it had a role to play in building a low-carbon infrastructure. The iron it mines is used in the production of wind turbines, and borates, a mineral mined in California, Europe and China, is used in turbine blades.
“The demand for natural resources is growing across the world so we need to develop new mines and be more efficient with existing mines, and future energy is one of the key issues,” Ernst & Young’s Forer said.
In case you haven’t heard about how dirty “clean” energy really is check out: