Small modular nuclear reactors have the potential to power remote Canadian mining operations which typically rely on carbon intensive diesel generation. Teck Resources photo.
Small modular nuclear reactors could offer significant costs savings compared to diesel generation
Mining operations located in remote Canadian locations could soon power their operations with small modular nuclear reactors which would cut their reliance on carbon intensive and costly diesel.
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, or CNL, recently presented their small modular reactors (SMR) technology to the mining industry at the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada convention in Toronto.
Industrial mining sites typically rely on diesel generation to provide electricity to their operations. In a press release, the company said “The modular approach to construction, deployment and decommissioning of small modular reactor technologies enables a clean, emissions free alternative for the mining and resource extraction sector, even in challenging locations.”
As much as 40 per cent of a mine’s energy use is related to heating and ventilation. CNL says an SMR can provide the electricity needed to power equipment and vehicles, cut ventilation requirements and deliver passive local area heating to the mine operations.
“Increasingly, nuclear technology is being seen as a viable clean energy alternative for industrial applications,” said Dr. Corey McDaniel, Vice-President of Business Development at CNL.
“Heavy industry, such as mining, is energy intensive and requires a reliable source of electricity, but also in many cases, heat and steam. Next-generation nuclear energy offers the versatility to meet these needs, and does so in a low-carbon, environmentally-sustainable way.”
McDaniel participated in a panel at PDAC 2019 alongside other leaders in Canada’s nuclear and mining sectors. The group discussed challenges and opportunities to SMR use in mining as well as linkages with the Canadian Minerals and Mining Plan.
“It is critical that we draw in as many perspectives as possible to fully explore the potential of SMR technology in enabling a competitive, low-carbon future for the mining sector in Canada,” added McDaniel.
SMRs could offer significant costs savings compared to diesel generation, particularly for remote industrial operations or small communities.
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories recently announced a staged invitation process for vendors interested in siting an SMR unit on a CNL-managed site.
The company says that while deployment of SMRs is several years away, CNL “is building its expertise and capabilities to support the development of these technologies, and has launched initiatives that would further explore the full range of applications.”