UH2, together with Universal Kraft, have for almost a year carried out a scoping study for a sustainable mining solution.
The goal was the energy transition of a mining site in the arctic Canada, from expensive and polluting fossil fueled power supply, to a gradually self-contained sustainable alternative solution. The proposal included renewable power and energy storage solutions, as well as conversion fuels as green hydrogen and green ammonia.
A mining group is working in the development of an underwater remote mining (URM) system for the extraction of diamond-bearing kimberlite ore from deep open pits in the Northwest Territories of Canada. UH2 is working on the project, providing the technical solutions and design for a full integrated system of renewable power supply and energy storage solutions for the mining operation, in a way to eventually eliminate its dependency on diesel-based power.
The facility located 200 km south of the arctic circle, operates round the year with a total power demand of 20 MWp and around 144 GWh/year of energy consumption. UH2 has conducted an extensive study to analyze the potential solutions that can be implemented on site given the load profile, but also the extreme weather conditions. With temperature reaching ~-40°C during the winter season – creating not just operational hurdles, but as well accessibility challenges, with limited access only from February to March by ice roads.
The proposed solution had to be feasible from a both technical and economical point of view, with the main goal being to replace the diesel consumption with low or non-carbon fuels and extend the lifespan of the mines.
Our integrated solution for a sustainable mining
As base power for the site, given its location, the most efficient solution would be wind energy, with suitable, direct-drive, gearless turbines with specialized heating system that can embrace the site harsh conditions. With operational wind sites in the proximity, wind production numbers can be verified.
Apart from that, ground and off-grid, foldable solar solutions were also presented to complement the wind power at site, for a more even production profile and to minimize the need for energy storage, including analysis to the local ground conditions and design the general layout and foundations.
On the basis of topographic data of the available mines, new innovative energy underwater storage was also designed for the site for long term periodic capacity. This solution would, in contrast to batteries, not be very much affected by harsh, cold environment, and can hold larger volumes of energy for longer periods.
As a complement, the possibility for local production of both green hydrogen and green ammonia where evaluated, both to direct power to heavy duty machinery, but also for a full sustainable system. The later with the aim to create an infrastructure that could manufacture sustainable fuel on site, but also with the possibility to import clean fuels externally if needs arise. In summary, an open format solution.
This project reflects UH2’s and Universal Kraft’s ability to create off grid solutions for both industrial sites as well as off grid communities, often in remote areas and harsh conditions.
Some of the key numbers
What is underwater remote mining?
The URM is a technological breakthrough for kimberlite diamond mining. It consists of a floating platform, an underwater mining crawler and a land based dewatering plant. A new innovative solution which originated from deep sea mining and trenching systems allows taking the next step in the future of diamond-bearing kimberlite mining.
The starting point for the development of the underwater remote mining system was to economically extract kimberlite from marginal kimberlite pipes and from deep extents of completed open pits. An important focus is to develop a mining solution that has a much lower environmental impact than conventional mining methods. As the URM crawler is only mining the kimberlite ore and minimal waste, it significantly reduces the mine’s footprint. The URM solution could allow the mine to extend its lifetime by at least 10 years.