Rio Tinto, a mining company from Australia and the UK, announced on Thursday that it would construct the largest solar power plant in northern Canada at its Diavik diamond mine site. The mine is located 300 kilometres (185 miles) northeast of Yellowknife, near the Arctic Circle, and is a significant diamond producer.
Rio Tinto will install 6,600 solar panels, and the construction of the solar site will begin in a few weeks. The site will generate approximately 4,200 megawatt-hours of electricity per year when operational in the first half of 2024, providing up to a quarter of Diavik’s electricity as it moves towards closing down operations. Diavik’s electricity as it moves towards closing down operations.
Diavik has been in production since 2003, but it will close in 2029, with commercial diamond production scheduled to cease in 2026. The solar panels will generate electricity from sunlight and light reflected off the snow, which covers the mine for most of the year.
Angela Bigg, president and CEO of the Diavik diamond mine, said, “This important project reinforces our dedication to reducing our carbon footprint.”
Rio Tinto announced in July that it was unlikely to meet its greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2025 due to “underlying emissions growth” in some parts of its business. However, on Thursday, the company said it was advancing decarbonization initiatives across its global operations and intended to achieve “carbon neutrality” by 2050.