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Rio Tinto’s Diavik diamond mine in northern Canada will soon be home to the largest solar power plant in the country’s northern territories.

The solar power plant will feature 6600 solar panels, generating 4200 megawatt-hours of carbon-free electricity for Diavik.

It is also expected that the plant will cut diesel consumption at the site by one million litres a year while reducing emissions by 2900 tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

It is the latest in Rio’s push for more sustainable operations, after it announced its partnership with H2 Green Steel earlier this week.

“I am delighted that we will be significantly increasing our renewable power generation with the largest solar power plant in Canada’s northern territories at the Diavik diamond mine,” Diavik president and chief operating officer Angela Bigg said.

“Through its wind-diesel hybrid power facility, Diavik is already a leader in cold climate renewable technology and this important project reinforces our dedication to reducing our carbon footprint.

“I would like to thank both the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada for their support to deploy this project.”

The plant will provide up to 25 per cent of the energy needed to commence closure works at Diavik and will run to 2029, with commercial operational production expected to end in early 2026.

“The Diavik solar power plant is a welcome sign of Rio Tinto’s commitment to renewable energy and reducing emissions,” Government of the Northwest Territories Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek said.

“The Government of the Northwest Territories is pleased to have provided support through the Large Emitters GHG Reducing Investment Grant program.

“This collaboration exemplifies our commitment to facilitating sustainable development while reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the Northwest Territories and should be a signal of how our economic development can continue to position us as leaders in these spaces.”

The plant is expected to be fully operational in the first half of 2024.