Mining power plant
Newmont Mining Corp. is talking with
potential partners about construction of a
480-megawatt power plant near Carlin as
the mining industry continues to look for
ways to reduce its energy consumption
and its energy costs.
No agreements have been reached
about the proposed plant in Elko County.
Doug Hock, a Newmont spokesman at the
company’s Denver headquarters, said his
company would be “an anchor customer”
for the power plant.
The proposal has the strong support of
the City of Elko, largely because a major
new natural gas line would be built to fuel
the power plant.
“We’re always looking for diversification.
One of the roadblocks is energy,” said
City Manager Linda Ritter.
Newmont operates nine open-pit
mines, five underground mines and 15
processing plants in the state. Hock said
energy is the second-biggest cost
trailing only labor in its mining
And when energy costs skyrocketed in
early 2001, mining companies throughout
Nevada started looking for ways to trim
their consumption and reduce their costs.
“All of us got a wake-up call a year and a
half ago,” said Russ Fields, president of the
Nevada Mining Association. “The mining
industry is more mindful of electric power
in its operations than it ever has been.”
Fields said conservation efforts have
included steps such as wider use of variable-
speed motors and shifting of production
schedules to take advantage of lower
rates whenever that’s possible.
Some companies, he said, are looking at
possible co-generation projects to take
advantage of the heat generated by their
Others such as Newmont might take
advantage of state legislation from last year
that allows them to leave the Sierra Pacific
Power grid if they can show no harm
would result to existing customers. Mining
operations account for about 20 percent of
the electricity sold by Sierra Pacific Power.
The energy crunch doesn’t affect all
mining companies equally.
The heap-leach operations in Nevada
of Reno-based Glamis Gold, for instance,
have only modest amounts of power, said
Mike Steeves, the company’s vice president
for investor relations.
In 2001, he said, the company’s electric
costs for gold production amounted to about
$4.50 an ounce. In the first half of this year,
those costs have been about $7 an ounce.
Still, he said, the company looks for
every opportunity to cut its power usage
not merely for economic reasons, but
because its executives believe conservation
is the right thing to do.
It’s the first legal action brought against the mining tax proposals, each of which were voted on mostly party-line votes during this summer’s special legislative session in Carson City.