At an inauguration ceremony held today in northern Chile, Barrick Gold Corporation marked the official opening of the Punta Colorada Wind Farm, the largest wind farm ever built by a mining company in the country.
The event was attended by the President of the Republic of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, the ministers of Mining and Energy, Hernán de Solminihac and Rodrigo Álvarez, and authorities from Chile’s Atacama and Coquimbo regions. This large-scale $50 million project, located in the town of La Higuera in the Coquimbo Region of Chile, consists of 10 wind turbines that generate 20 megawatts of power, enough to supply the energy needs of 10,000 families. The wind farm has the capacity to expand to 18 turbines and generate 36 megawatts, which would raise the total investment in the project to $70 million. The power generated by the wind farm feeds into Chile’s Central Interconnected Systems power grid.
“The inauguration of this wind farm is a milestone for Barrick, reflecting our belief that renewable energy and energy conservation benefit both the environment and our company,” said Igor Gonzales, President of Barrick South America. “We are also very pleased to contribute to the diversification of Chile’s national energy grid and to support policies for the development of renewable energy. We will continue to explore innovative technologies to make our company more energy efficient and to reduce our carbon footprint.”
The wind farm is one of a number of renewable energy projects and conservation initiatives that support Barrick’s broader climate change strategy. In Nevada, the company has a one megawatt solar farm. In Argentina, Barrick invested $8.5 million in a wind turbine that now provides up to 20 percent of the electricity needs for its Veladero mine. At 4,110 meters above sea level in the Andes Mountains, the wind turbine is recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s highest-altitude wind generator.
In 2010, 15 per cent of Barrick’s purchased and self-generated electricity came from renewable sources. The company completed more than 25 projects to reduce its energy and greenhouse gas footprint last year. These programs reduced the company’s GHG emissions by 206,200 tonnes over business as usual in 2010.
In 2011, Barrick was named as a carbon disclosure leader in Canada for the second consecutive year, ranking among the top five companies in an annual survey conducted by the Carbon Disclosure Project. Barrick was selected from among 200 major Canadian companies as the most prepared and transparent in its approach to climate change information disclosure practices and strategies.