This article was provided by the Ontario Mining Association (OMA), an organization that was established in 1920 to represent the mining industry of the province.
Ontario Mining Association member Goldcorp and 13 First Nations in Northwestern Ontario have formed a partnership to create Wataynikaneyap Power. This new electricity company plans to develop a transmission line to connect remote First Nations to the provincial grid and provide more reliable power to communities and companies already linked to Ontario’s electrical network.
“We have partnered with Goldcorp to establish Wataynikaneyap Power with the goal of First Nations eventually owning 100% of this important infrastructure that will better serve our communities,” said Margaret Kenequanash, representing the 13 First Nations partners in Wataynikaneyap Power. “I look forward to the day we can connect our communities to the provincial power grid – it is safe, reliable and provides cleaner energy.”
“Wataynikaneyap Power is an example of how industry and First Nations can work together on projects that are good for the economy and the environment while benefitting communities in the region for years to come,” said Gil Lawson, Mine Manager for Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Operation. Goldcorp plans to facilitate the completion of phase one of the project and leave the Wataynikaneyap Power partnership once a long-term transmission partner is on board.
The new power company has on the table a single project to be built in two phases. The first phase is s 300 kilometre transmission line to upgrade and reinforce electricity transmission into Pickle Lake. Phase two involves extending the line north of Pickle Lake to link up with 10 remote communities. The current line is at capacity and although Goldcorp’s Musselwhite Mine and other customers are connected to the existing infrastructure, it is vulnerable to frequent outages.
This transmission line development can help link 21 of Ontario 25 remote First Nations communities to the grid. Providing electricity to these remote communities through on-site generators currently requires about 25 million litres of diesel fuel annually at a cost of about $68 million. These linkages to the grid could also avoid, over 40 years, the release of more than four million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
The project is expected to create 1,200 jobs during the construction period and 60 longer term jobs. It is anticipated that the transmission project will also create new economic development opportunities including renewable energy possibilities.
“Our goal is to create as many local economic opportunities for our First Nations communities as possible,” said Ms Kenequanash. “We are currently in the process of developing training programs to prepare the local workforce not only for the construction period but for the long term as well.”
The environmental assessment on phase one of the project has been initiated and plans call for construction to be completed by 2015. The phase two environmental assessment is to be started this year and electrical grid connections to remote communities could commence in 2017.
“Wataynikaneyap” is translated as “line that brings light” in a local First Nations language. Elders provided guidance in the naming of the partnership. The company’s vision is to provide reliable and affordable power for residents, businesses and industry in the region and realize economic opportunities for First Nations.
Goldcorp is a major gold producer with operations in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Argentina and the Dominican Republic. It employs about 14,000 people worldwide. In 2012, the company turned out about 2.4 million ounces of gold, with about 250,000 ounces coming from Musselwhite.