Hurricane Maria left hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans without power for months, and the U.S. territory remains on the path to recovery. Over Thanksgiving 2018, Caterpillar Defense worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide 300 generator sets that helped power hospitals, data centers, wastewater treatment plants and other facilities in Puerto Rico.
At a diamond mine in Canada, it turns out that a gas power solution can both reduce environmental impact and contribute to the bottom line.
Stornoway Diamond Corporation operates Renard Mine, the first diamond mine in Quebec and one of only six in Canada. It processes up to 2.5 million tons of ore and produces up to 2 million karats of diamonds each year. Early in the development of the mine, Stornoway concluded that on-site power generation would be a practical solution for its power needs. This decision was made to not only combat fluctuating diesel prices, but also to reduce the mine’s environmental impact.
Their local Cat® dealer, Toromont Industries Ltd., produced an original power generation station, outfitted with seven Cat G3520C generators, but powered by liquified natural gas (LNG) rather than diesel. A feasibility study demonstrated the substantial benefits to the project in terms of operating costs and environmental emissions compared to the diesel generator set option. Using LNG reduces annual operating costs by between $8 million and $10 million while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent or avoiding 23,000 tons of emissions per year.
The power generation plant at the Renard mine is the first mine site power plant in Canada to operate on LNG. The technology may be new to the area, but it’s a proven process that is used to power Cat gas engines worldwide. The station is fed entirely with the natural gas produced on site, with LNG stored in cryogenic tanks. The mine can count on this permanent 14-megawatt gas power station, but a standby temporary peaking station comprised of three Cat 3516B diesel generator sets can produce up to six megawatts of power in emergencies.
Patrick Godin, COO and director of Stornoway Diamond Corporation, calls the power generation solution a success for the mine, the environment and the people who live in the nearby community. “The fact that we found the best technology that can be better for the environment and improve the balance sheet – that’s a win-win deal,” Godin says.