The power plant at the Pueblo Viejo mine, in the Dominican Republic, is about to receive its first natural gas, with the conversion expected in the first quarter of 2020.
The move would lower greenhouse gas emissions and cut costs, which owner Barrick Gold said on Tuesday was in line with its clean and efficient energy strategy.
Pueblo Viejo entered into a ten-year supply agreement with AES Andrés DR, SA in May 2018 for the provision of natural gas and the construction of a gas pipeline from the AES gas terminal to the Quisqueya I power plant for the mine. This will also benefit the San Pedro region which has not previously had access to this cleaner alternative fuel.
Barrick president and CEO Mark Bristow said since the commissioning of the Quisqueya I power plant in 2013, Pueblo Viejo had looked for ways to reduce the impact of its air emissions on the environment and the cost of energy production.
“The conversion of Quisqueya I to natural gas will help reduce Pueblo Viejo’s power generation costs by some 30%. Greenhouse gases will also be cut by 30% and nitrogen oxide by 85%, and the mine’s dependence on oil will be significantly decreased,” Bristow said.
The gas pipeline is facilitating the conversion of other power plants in the region, which would translate into further reduction in greenhouse emissions and significant savings in energy costs within the Dominican national grid. Recently, other power producers in the area have announced the conversion into natural gas of an additional 525 MW.
Pueblo Viejo is also contributing to the Dominican electricity sector with the construction of the Bonao III power substation as part of a public–private alliance with the Dominican Transmission Entity and Empresa Generadora de Electricidad Haina, which owns the power plant Quisqueya 2 located next to Quisqueya I.
The substation is expected to help to provide more stability to the country’s national grid. Finalisation is scheduled for mid-next year.
“The conversion agreement, the natural gas pipeline and the Bonao III substation represent a step forward, not only for Pueblo Viejo but for the Dominicans, as it shows not just environmental benefits, but also a significant reduction of the country’s electricity cost, less dependency on crude oil and more stability for the national power grid,” commented Bristow.