Situated at 4,100 m above sea level in the AndesMountains, Barrick’s Veladero mine in Argentina is now home to the world’s highest wind turbine. The 2 MW turbine will provide clean, renewable energy to the mine, harnessing the area’s extreme winds. Built at a cost of $8.5 million, the new turbine will serve as a pilot project to test the equipment at high altitude. Veladero experiences a range of severe atmospheric conditions, including extreme cold, heavy snows and high winds. The turbine design was also modified to compensate for low air density high in the mountains. It has the ability to supply up to 20% of the mine’s energy.
The turbine itself is mounted on a 52-m tower, and requires wind speeds of at least 14 m/sec to generate 2 MW of electricity. Barrick will now monitor and evaluate the turbine’s performance at high-altitude. If the pilot is successful, the company will consider similar wind energy projects at its other operations.
In total, Barrick spent $16.5million in 2007 on renewable energy, including the wind turbine at Veladero and a 1 MW solar farm at the Western 102 power plant in Nevada that will soon become operational. The company is pursuing other alternative energy projects to support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, including a 20-MW wind farm in the Coquimbo area of Chile that will supply power to the national grid.