North

Grid power for mines could boost investment: mine owners

Mining companies say Northwest Territories government's plans to expand and connect its hydro systems will make it easier to find investors for remote projects that weren't previously on the grid.
'If you had equal opportunity in terms of the geological endowment, and one project had better infrastructure, there's no doubt where the investment would go — it would go to the project with the better infrastructure,' says Joe Campbell, who heads a company exploring a gold property near Yellowknife.

Mining companies are praising the Northwest Territories government's plans to expand and connect its hydro systems.

Earlier this week, the government released an ambitious 20-year energy plan. It wants to link its under-used Taltson system south of Great Slave Lake to the Snare system north of the lake.

Part of that plan may include pumping more energy into the grid from a liquefied natural gas generating station near Yellowknife.

The territorial government believes the hydro expansion will boost mining in the territory.

Others say it will also make it easier to raise money for mining projects.

Joe Campbell heads a company exploring a gold property near Yellowknife.

“If you had equal opportunity in terms of the geological endowment, and one project had better infrastructure, there's no doubt where the investment would go — it would go to the project with the better infrastructure.”

Hydro is also an attractive alternative for mines that have been hauling fuel up the winter road for years.

Brendan Bell is president of Dominion Diamond Holdings, which is applying to expand its Ekati diamond mine.

“We've got diesel, we've got infrastructure already there on site. We've got to permit it with that approach, but look, if hydro is available, would we come and buy it and pick it up? Of course we would. It makes all kinds of sense.”

If the government goes ahead with the project, the first company to hook up to the grid could be the proposed Nico mine near Whati.

Initially, the additional power the mine would need won’t be hydro. It will come from liquefied natural gas generators to be installed near Yellowknife.

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