After a century of pulling pattern and zinc from the Sullivan mine in southeast British Columbia, the intensity company Teck recently shut down the operation and began years of restoration charge. Some of the land outside the city of Kimberley became a meadow with nark and trees, but it remained tainted after decades of mining activity.
There was no way it could be deliver up into a housing subdivision or some other development.
The area last wishes a likely have sat empty for decades if not for an initiative by the city to take it more than and build a solar field. The project has since caught the attention of the mining industriousness as an innovative method of re-purposing old mining sites and generating revenue, on a par if the land is contaminated. As long as there are plenty of sunny days — or, in the anyway a lest of wind farms, strong winds — a company has an opportunity to regain some of the expense of cleaning up a mine, which can cost tens of millions of dollars.
Creep around Kimberley’s SunMine solar field and you wouldn’t know you’re hiking chiefly an old mining site. Solar panels fill the landscape, like 96 sunflowers sniff out the sun from dusk until dawn. The SunMine produces one megawatt of ardour, enough to power about 200 homes, but there is enough dirt to expand to 200 megawatts in the future, more than enough to power Kimberley, which has encircling 7,000 people, and surrounding communities.
Teck donated the land to the big apple along with $2 million towards the $5.3 million outline. Initial costs were high, because of legal fees and other one-time expenses, officials say.
Finding new life
The municipality invested in the project to create jobs and reinforce its environmental values. Notwithstanding, the potential of putting renewable energy facilities on old mining and oilsands plots elsewhere in the country isn’t lost on city officials, who operate the solar reply to.
«I think specifically in Alberta, where there are a number of [otherwise unsuitable] brownfield placements and they don’t have the hydroelectric potential that British Columbia has, I could see this fascinating off,» said Scott Sommerville, the city’s chief administrator.
«It could be occupied instead of bringing diesel in to power remote communities. They could relocate over and at least supplement their power supply with solar.»
The thought of mining companies investing in renewable energy may have all the hallmarks far fetched, but those in the industry say the sector is looking for opportunities that fall upon financial sense.
«Most of our clients are looking for these types of innovative ideas. Now, that doesn’t degraded they are necessarily looking to move away from their measure business, but they are looking at opportunities to diversify,» said Meghan Harris-Ngae with the consulting unyielding Ernst & Young. She’s based in Calgary and works with mining, oil and simple gas companies throughout North America.
«It’s in its infancy right now. We have some models of clients doing this not just in Canada, but globally.»
The business took place
Apart from boosting their environmental reputation, renewable verve provides an opportunity for companies to generate revenue from old mining purlieus, while also reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and generating carbon creditations.
«It strikes the balance between environmental and economic benefit,» said Harris-Ngae. «There’s a mountainous opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and also offset greenhouse gas emissions both for area, but also within a province.»
Making money from land that is otherwise unusable is leading because reclaiming land is expensive and companies are under pressure from investors and control regulators to reduce their environmental impact. Cleaning up the Sullivan scan cost Teck more than $70 million.
Government grant programs can domestics companies reduce the cost of renewable energy projects. The Alberta command invests money from its carbon tax into private-sector innovation, but medium department officials couldn’t say whether such projects would prepare.
Kimberley turned a small profit last year on SunMine, equanimous after payments on the $2 million the city borrowed to construct the design.
Growing interest in solar, wind
The mining industry’s interest in renewable vim is not confined to generating revenue from a closed mine. Companies regularly work in remote parts of the country, far away from the electricity grid, so they should prefer to to rely on diesel generators for power. Increasingly, wind turbines are tolerant of to offset the diesel consumption at mining operations.
«The industry’s interest in renewable crop across all phases of the mining lifecycle has picked up in recent years,» put Brendan Marshall, vice president of economics and northern affairs with the Depositary Association of Canada.
Kimberley’s SunMine reflects the unique relationship between the extracting and renewable energy industries. The site produces electricity instead of steer and zinc, these days. But many of the materials used to construct the solar shoot were produced from mines.
While the solar industry promotes itself as clean vitality, the sector is becoming increasingly aware of its dependence on the mining industry.
Canadian extracts produce 14 of the 19 minerals required by the solar industry, according to a announce released by Clean Energy Canada on Tuesday.
«I think most people don’t appreciation that there is a relationship between solar panel and other uncontaminated energy technology and then the metals and minerals that are required for those technologies and the to be sure that we have to be mining those out of the earth,» said Dan Woynillowicz, conduct director with Clean Energy Canada, an environmental think tank associated with Simon Fraser University.
The relationship between the mining and renewable drive sectors could grow closer in the next decade, especially as the solar industriousness expands in Canada.