While attending City Council on Monday evening, former Mayor Jim Ogilvie had a few questions on a project he called near and dear to his heart, that being the Sun Mine.
SunMine has been jointly developed by the City of Kimberley; EcoSmart, a non-profit organization based in Vancouver; and Teck Resources Limited, the former operator of the Sullivan Mine and owner of the industrial site.
The project’s objective is to build a two-megawatt peak* (“MWp”) solar power plant and power system that demonstrate both the feasibility of solar power in BC and the benefits of reusing the Sullivan’s existing industrial infrastructure.
Ogilvie said he felt that the project could really put Kimberley on the map and he wondered what the progress on it was.
Acting Mayor Kent Goodwin, sitting in for Mayor Ron McRae who was away at a meeting in Kelowna, said that he didn’t disagree about the importance of the project, but that there wasn’t much that could be said given that negotiations were still ongoing.
“All that can be said is that it is still in the very delicate negotiation stage,” said City CAO Al Mulholland. “Lawyers are working on the agreement. One of the criteria was that the Sun Mine wouldn’t cost the taxpayers of Kimberley anything.”
Mulholland said an independent review, looking at all the numbers, was ongoing and the City was still in touch with all the funders. He said that some details would be released early in the new year.
“Teck is very very interested in seeing the Sun Mine go forward,” he said. “But they are also responsible to their shareholders.”
“I hope you didn’t turn it all over to Teck lawyers,” Ogilvie said. “We’ll all be in the grave before they are done.”
Mulholland assured Ogilvie that City lawyers were in on the negotiations as well.
Last fall, Kimberley voters approved a borrowing of up to $2 million for the Sun Mine project, provided that all funders were on board and the numbers made sense. The project is anticipated to be self-sustaining and revenue from energy sales will pay back the loan.
While the Sun Mine will begin as a 2 MegaWatt peak solar power plant, those behind the project believe it has the potential to be one of Canada’s largest solar farms in the future.