We recognize the impact of climate change on the northern landscape and believe in doing our part to protect the environment and be a responsible partner with the communities. Our efforts are focused on reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improving our energy efficiency.
The Ekati mine has developed a formal energy management system that includes a steering committee, efficiency projects, an awareness campaign, and energy use tracking and reporting. The system is structured on the recommendations of Natural Resources Canada, which is also helping us develop a new energy management information system.
The Energy Management Steering Committee has representatives from the environment, maintenance, infrastructure, business improvement, electrical services, facilities, and process departments. Its goal is to ensure that effective and efficient energy use remains part of the way Dominion does business. Each department is expected to identify at least one energy efficiency project in its area, working towards a collective goal of reducing GHG emissions by at least 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in fiscal 2018.
The committee meets regularly to assess the progress of energy efficiency projects and review the energy conservation ideas submitted by our workforce. There is a dedicated intranet page for the energy management system, which can be accessed by all employees to track energy savings progress.
In 2016, we far exceeded our target of reducing GHG emissions by at least 500 tonnes – achieving a 3,787-tonne reduction through energy efficiency projects that reduced diesel usage by 1.4 million litres and saved CDN $1.6 million. There were four main contributors to this performance:
- Panda mine ventilation – By reducing the speed of the fan feeding fresh air into the Panda underground mine in the winter months, in line with mining activity, we save approximately one million litres of diesel fuel annually. The fan is operated by a variable frequency drive and because air flow in Panda is higher in winter and lower in summer, the fan speed can be safely reduced to deliver energy and cost savings.
- Truck efficiency – We introduced road trains, which involve multiple trailers carrying ore pulled by a combination of a road haulage tractor and a powered trailer, thereby improving efficiency and reducing emissions.
- Powerhouse heat recovery optimization – After completing an environmental assessment, temporary cooling spray bars were installed at the powerhouse generator during summer months, when higher ambient temperatures caused by extended daylight hours prevented normal generator cooling in the evening. The use of a water spray eliminates the need to run an additional generator for cooling purposes, leading to significant energy savings.
- Main camp LED project – Approximately 4,000 fluorescent lighting tubes were replaced with LED lighting in the main camp. The replacement tubes provide the same or better lighting while using less energy and lasting longer. Energy savings from the project reduce diesel fuel consumption by 165,932 litres per year.
- Panda mine ventilation – 62%
- Truck efficiency – 15%
- Powerhouse heat recovery optimization – 14%
- Main camp LED project – 9%
Dominion paid 40% of the initial and ongoing maintenance costs of the wind farm at the Diavik mine, of which we are a 40% owner. Since its commissioning in October 2012 through to December 2016, the wind farm has produced 73.6 gigawatt hours of energy, and has offset 18.2 million litres of diesel and 50,801 tonnes of CO2e.
In 2016, we conducted an alternate energy concept study for the Ekati mine and Jay Project. Of the various options, wind and off-grid solar were the most promising, and we will be investigating them further.