Ring of Fire Metals (RoF Metals) says it has commenced two studies exploring the use of wind power and atmospheric carbon removal as part of planning for a net zero emissions mine in northern Ontario’s Ring of Fire.
Stephen Crozier, RoF Metals VP Sustainability, said the findings from a study of the wind energy resource conducted by global renewable energy company Windlab earlier this year were promising.
“Our primary focus in the development of Eagle’s Nest is to implement low emissions technologies throughout the operation, wherever possible,” he said. “We are encouraged by the results of the initial wind study and believe there is good potential to generate clean energy using wind turbines in the area, which we will further define with additional study in the near term.
“Other options for complementary low- and no-emission generation, including biomass, pumped hydro and solar, are also being investigated to supplement clean wind energy production if needed.”
Following completion of the Windlab study, RoF Metals installed a Vaisala WindCube® LiDAR (pictured) for the collection of more detailed data.
Crozier added: “Unlike traditional tower installations, LiDAR devices obtain measurements throughout the air column from the base to the top of the turbine blades rather than just at the hub. We have already started collecting detailed data using WindCube and will continue throughout the seasons to track natural weather variability.
“Data from both studies will then be matched with projected power demand to guide modelling of power generation and storage options for the proposed Eagle’s Nest mine.
“Ultimately we would like to be able to draw upon and potentially supply to Ontario’s power grid when it is expanded to northern communities.”
RoF Metals is also participating in the DETAILS project with Dr Liam Bullock at Geosciences Barcelona, an institute of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (GEO3BCN-CSIC), to investigate the potential to use mine tailings to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Crozier said the tailings from ultramafic nickel deposits have been shown to have the potential to absorb significant quantities of carbon dioxide, and there may be ways the company can speed up the rate that this happens.
“We have provided Geosciences Barcelona with samples of tailings from the Eagle’s Nest project and they are evaluating their potential for carbon dioxide absorption,” he explained. “We hope to be able to use our tailings to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and safely and permanently store it underground.”
Eagle’s Nest is, according to Ring of Fire Metals, one of the largest undeveloped, high-grade nickel-copper-platinum-palladium deposits in the world, located in the Ring of Fire. Based on existing exploration work, Eagle’s Nest will have an initial mine life of 11 years, with the potential for a nine-year extension. It will produce modest volumes of high value product via selective underground mining methods that minimise surface disruption, according to the company. The mined ore will be processed into 150,000 t/y of nickel-copper and platinum group element bearing concentrate.