Barrick Gold says the Pueblo Viejo power plant is expected to receive its first natural gas in the March quarter as it looks to lower greenhouse gas emissions and cut costs, in line with the group’s clean and efficient energy strategy.
Pueblo Viejo entered into a 10-year supply agreement with AES Andrés DR, SA, in May 2018, for the provision of natural gas and the construction of a gas pipeline from the AES gas terminal to the Quisqueya I power plant for the mine. This is also expected to benefit the San Pedro region which has not previously had access to this cleaner alternative fuel, the company said.
Owned 60% by Barrick and 40% by Newmont Goldcorp, Pueblo Viejo is expected to produce 550,000-600,000 oz of gold in 2019 at all-in sustaining costs of $610-650/oz.
Barrick President and Chief Executive, Mark Bristow, says, since the commissioning of the Quisqueya I power plant, in 2013, Pueblo Viejo has looked for ways to reduce the impact of its air emissions on the environment and the cost of energy production.
“The conversion of Quisqueya I to natural gas will help reduce Pueblo Viejo’s power generation costs by some 30%. Greenhouse gases will also be cut by 30% and nitrogen oxide by 85%, and the mine’s dependence on oil will be significantly decreased,” he said.
The gas pipeline is facilitating the conversion of other power plants in the region to translate into further reduction in greenhouse emissions and significant savings in energy costs within the Dominican national grid, according to Barrick. Recently other power producers in the area have announced the conversion into natural gas of an additional 525 MW, it said.
Barrick said: “Pueblo Viejo is also contributing to the Dominican electricity sector with the construction of the Bonao III power substation as part of a public/private alliance with the Dominican Transmission Entity and Empresa Generadora de Electricidad Haina (EGE Haina) which owns the power plant Quisqueya 2 located next to Quisqueya I. The substation is expected to help to provide more stability to the country’s national grid. Finalisation is scheduled for mid-next year.”
Bristow noted: “The conversion agreement, the natural gas pipeline and the Bonao III substation represent a step forward, not only for Pueblo Viejo but for the Dominicans, as it shows not just environmental benefits, but also a significant reduction of the country’s electricity cost, less dependency on crude oil and more stability for the national power grid.”