Nova Scotia gold mine could host PV-plus-pumped hydro storage energy hub

A new partnership will investigate the viability of colocating a closed-loop pumped hydro energy storage facility with solar PV at the site of a former gold mine in Moose River in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. Atlantic Mining, owner of the mine, and Natural Forces, a renewables company with 300 MW of operational capacity in Canada, are optimistic the project will be feasible. 
Illustration of closed-loop pumped hydro energy storage in gold mine
Closed-loop pumped hydro energy storage system. | Image: St Barbara – Atlantic Mining Nova Scotia

Australian mining company St Barbara has announced that its Nova Scotia-based branch Atlantic Mining will team up with Natural Forces, an independent power producer specializing in renewables, to explore whether Touqoy Gold Mine can be repurposed.

We are optimistic about this project’s feasibility.
Robert Apold
Director at Natural Forces

The duo wants to convert the mine site into a closed-loop pumped hydro energy storage system combined with solar photovoltaic panels.  

The first step is conducting a feasibility study. This will begin later in the month, with the first conceptual design due at the end of the year. 

“We are optimistic about this project’s feasibility,” said Robert Apold, director at Natural Forces. “It champions innovative solutions here at home and aligns with our mission to harness natural resources for the economic benefit and environmental future of Nova Scotian communities.” 

The team seeks to establish a closed-loop system pumping water from the open-pit lake up to a reservoir onsite for storage of water, ready for hydro energy generation on release of water back to the open-pit when required. Energy will be stored until it is required, easing pressure on the grid. 

Involvement of local community planned

If the concept is viable the companies have promised they will involve the local community in any proposed developments. Natural Forces, which currently has approximately 300 MW of operational renewable energy projects in Canada, has community partnerships in many of the countries it operates in. Besides Canada, it has branches in Ireland and France.  

Andrew Strelein, managing director and CEO of Atlantic Mining, said the company has been looking at potential alternative land uses since closing Touquoy. 

“This could be a unique contributor to the renewables-based electricity supply objectives of Nova Scotia with an important and significant source of stored energy,” he said of the proposed mine conversion project. 

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