A gold-making titan is cutting nearly 20 percent of its carbon footprint

In a bid to foster sustainable gold production.
Can Emir
First Solar's solar panels. First Solar

Nevada Gold Mines is partnering with solar panel maker First Solar to manufacture all modules required to support the 200MW construction in the United States.

Nevada Gold Mines, a joint venture between Barrick Gold Corporation and Newmont Corporation that is operated by Barrick, produces approximately 3.5 million ounces of gold a year. And now, the company is investing in building a solar power plant as part of a broader effort to decarbonize its operations and minimize its environmental footprint.

First Solar’s photovoltaic (PV) solar module technology would power 17 percent of the annual energy needs of Nevada Gold Mines, the single largest gold-producing complex in the world.

Nevada Gold Mines is investing in a 200-megawatt (MW) solar power plant designed to accelerate its decarbonization program in line with the Barrick Gold Corporation’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Roadmap.

As part of the deal, in February, 260 megawatts (MW) DC of solar modules manufactured by First Solar will be deployed to power the new 200 MWAC facility in the second quarter of 2023.

“When we selected our solar module technology partner, we did so with very careful consideration. We made the choice to contract with a supplier who shares our values, including a commitment to fair labor practices and investment in American manufacturing and American jobs. By partnering with First Solar we also found an innovator that can deliver high-performance solar panels with the lowest carbon footprint and the best environmental profile available today,” said Greg Walker, Nevada Gold Mines executive managing director. “At Nevada Gold Mines, we believe that our corporate social responsibility and the profitability of our business go hand in hand. While minimizing the environmental impacts of our operations — we bring sustainable long-term social and economic benefits to Nevada.”

Sustainability goals

Barrick has committed to a 30 percent greenhouse gas reduction by 2030, with the goal of net-zero operations by 2050. Nevada Gold Mines will support Barrick’s targets and has set an intermediate goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2025, compared to its 2018 baseline. This is expected to be achieved by the solar power plant and conversion of Nevada Gold Mines’ coal-fired power plant to cleaner-burning natural gas.

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“The project is the latest in a series of carbon-reducing initiatives across the group’s global operations,” says Barrick group sustainability executive Grant Beringer. “The solar power plant will complement the transition of Nevada Gold Mines’ coal power plant to a dual fuel process, which will enable it to generate electricity from natural gas, reducing carbon emissions by as much as 50 percent.”

“As America’s solar company, we’re proud to support Nevada Gold Mines with responsible solar technology designed and developed right here in the United States,” said Georges Antoun, chief commercial officer, First Solar. “Nevada Gold Mines is part of a growing wave of customers that are unwilling to compromise on quality or their principles and choose to partner with First Solar. They partnered with us because we can deliver a high-performance module that comes without the social, environmental, and political risks that are, unfortunately, associated with too many solar manufacturers today.”

The carbon footprint reducing efforts from an important entity in a large sector is a pleasing development.