Huge mine progect seeking power, bid into new territory

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Plans for the world's largest nickel-copper, cobalt mine now include wind energy as an option for power supply at the accompanying smelter-refinery. Tacke Windpower of Canada is proposing 75 of its TW 600 turbines for three sites on the island of Newfoundland, two in Bonavista, and one in Grates Cove. The company's bid is in response to a call for proposals in January by Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. "The additional 200 megawatts that we are looking for is primarily to power a proposed mineral smelter on the island" says Hydro's Don Barrett.

The utility is seeking new generation from independent power producers to meet demand in the island portion of the province by 2000. Voisey's Bay Nickel Co is proposing the nickel-copper cobalt mine and mill at Voisey's Bay in northern Labrador together with a smelter-refinery in Argentia on Newfoundland. Standing in the way of mine development, however, are environmental assessments and Aboriginal land claims.

Tacke's bid is the only one from a wind developer out of 23 expressions of interest representing 1300 MW which Hydro received by the February 5 deadline. Detailed project proposals must be submitted by April 11 and a decision is expected by July. The utility will compare independent power bids with a "self-generation" option: either the development of a new hydroelectric plant or an expansion of an existing oil fuelled station near the provincial capital of St John's. There is no transmission link between Newfoundland and Labrador on the Canadian mainland.

Hydro requires each project over 15 MW to be dispatchable, meaning it can schedule start-up, shutdown and allocation of load. Because dispatchability is not compatible with wind projects, Tacke has limited its individual proposals to 15 MW, for a total of 45 MW.

Philipp Andres, vice president of Tacke Windpower, the Canadian subsidiary of Tacke of Germany, says: "The three sites we have chosen all have world class wind resources." Bonavista's average wind speeds of 7.8 m/s are among the best in Canada, he adds.

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