The Taltson hydro dam is seen in a GNWT inspection photo in May 2022.
Osisko Metals and the Northwest Territories Power Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to negotiate connecting the Pine Point mine project to the Taltson hydroelectric grid.
The two companies plan to talk about a power purchase agreement, which will see Osisko purchase the hydroelectric dam’s excess electricity to use at the Pine Point site.
The Taltson hyrdo dam currently has an 18 megawatt capacity and provides power to five South Slave communities, but depending on the time of year it has available capacity ranging from three and a half to eight megawatts.
“The Pine Point project would require additional power when production begins, currently projected to be in 2028. The potential to access clean hydropower is an attractive opportunity that we want to explore further with NTPC,” said Jeff Hussey, Osisko’s president said in a news release.
Hussey said tapping into the Taltson’s excess hydroelectricity would reduce the mine’s carbon footprint as well as reduce operating costs.
Cory Strang, the president of NTPC, said a new industrial customer using the Taltson’s power “will help to moderate electricity rates for all customers.”
Following the annoucement, in the legislature last Thursday Kam Lake MLA Caitlin Cleveland asked what other efforts were underway to meet current and future infrastructure needs in the NWT, saying traditional sources of public financing won’t be enough.
Diane Archie, the minister of infrastructure, at first gave a vague answer about strategies and guidelines, prompting Cleveland to say, “I’d like to commend the person who wrote that because there’s a lot of fluff in there … but what I hear is a lot of targets but without viable solutions.”
Referencing the Osisko-NTPC MOU, Cleveland asked how the GNWT was attracting more exploration or resource development projects to purchase power.
“Advancing projects such as the Taltson expansion project, Whatì transmission line, and Fort Providence transmission line will increase our ability to offer clean energy to industrial users,” Archie said. If the Taltson expansion project moves ahead, another 60 megawatts of generation capacity will be added to the dam’s capacity.
“By consolidating community, industry, and transportation demand into one hydro grid will also spread the costs and attract new customers so that we can stabilize energy and have clean cost of energy here in the Northwest Territories.”
Archie added NWT Energy, a sister company to NTPC, is talking to the Prairie Creek mine about how they can provide power to that project, and the territorial government is looking for “power opportunities” for other potential mines.
Cleveland told her colleagues that changes to NTPC’s governance model would also be a key aspect of meeting the NWT’s infrastructure challenges, and pressed Archie on when the power corporation would have “a diversified board of folks with expertise in electricity utility rather than deputy ministers?”
The infrastructure minister defended the current board’s competencies, but said the part of the rational for making a change in the future would be to include board members with electrical utility experience – but made clear she was not suggesting all future board members would have direct utility company experience.