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Rio Tinto mine completes largest off-grid solar plant in Canada’s North

Rio Tinto mine completes largest off-grid solar plant in Canada’s North

YELLOWKNIFE, N.W.T. — Rio Tinto’s Diavik Diamond Mine has completed installation of its 3.5-megawatt capacity solar power plant in the Northwest Territories.

The project represents the largest off-grid solar power plant across Canada’s territories, stated a release.

The 6,620-panel facility is expected to generate 4.2-million kilowatt-hours of solar energy annually, reducing diesel consumption at Diavik by one million litres per year.

The solar power plant will provide up to 25 per cent of Diavik’s electricity during closure work, with commercial production at the mine expected to end in 2026 and closure to run until 2029. The facility is equipped with bi-facial panels which not only generate energy from direct sunlight, but also from the light that reflects off the snow that covers Diavik for most of the year.

The solar project complements a wind power plant at Diavik, which has been operating since 2012 and is the largest wind power installation in Canada’s North, having generated over 195-million kilowatt-hours of electricity since activation.

The project was supported by $3.3 million in funding from the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Large Emitters GHG Reducing Investment Grant Program.

It is the first project in the Northwest Territories to benefit from funding from the Large Emitters Grant, which sets aside a portion of carbon tax paid by large operations such as Diavik for projects that commit to GHG-reduction projects in the territory.

Diavik COO Matthew Breen stated, “The largest off-grid solar power plant in Canada’s North is our latest commitment to the environment we live and work in, and will improve the energy efficiency of our operations at Diavik. We are proud to lead the way for large-scale renewable energy projects in Canada’s North.”

Construction began in February 2024, contracted to Whitehorse-based Solvest Inc. and the Indigenous-owned Tlicho Investment Corporation, with support from Diavik. Approximately 30 per cent of the construction workforce came from the Tlicho Investment Corporation.

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