One of the world’s largest mines could be powered by nuclear energy, as firms seek to find reliable power sources to meet net zero goals.
The Australian Financial Review newspaper this week reported BHP is likely to add nuclear energy to its massive potash mine in Canada.
BHP is considering nuclear energy to power what will be the world’s biggest potash mine in Saskatchewan, Canada, in a move that would help the Australian mining giant achieve its net-zero emissions target by 2050.
The $5 billion operation could be powered using small modular reactors, the report said.
The news highlights again that major firms looking for baseload power for 24/7 operations, like major mining companies to tech giants like Microsoft – are looking to alternatives to renewables.
While wind and solar can provide much of the needed energy supply, the reality is these are intermittent and must come with massive batteries to keep going when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.
Operations such as AI and mining require long-term, reliable power.
Only coal, gas and nuclear can achieve that and with the world racing to a NetZero future, firms are increasingly turning to nuclear.
In 2021, BHP said its Jansen stage one potash project is part of the company’s plan to access “future-facing commodities.”
The massive mine is “expected to be one of the world’s most sustainable potash mines with a low carbon footprint and low water intensity,” reports said at the time.
BHP advisors have now turned to small modular nuclear reactors to ensure that goal is met.
“The world will need more copper and nickel for electrification, renewable power and electric vehicles, iron ore and high-quality metallurgical coal to produce the steel for infrastructure, including that required for decarbonization, and the potash required for sustainable global food production,” Chief executive officer Mike Henry said recently.
Earlier this year, reports said Microsoft was likely to embrace small modular nuclear reactors to power Artificial Intelligence data processing centres across North America and beyond.
The company’s founder, Bill Gates, is a major backer of TerraPower.