Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Canada’s premier nuclear science and technology organization, is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of a virtual dialogue which brought together some of Canada’s leading experts in the nuclear and mining industries to explore the role that small modular reactors (SMRs) can play in the pursuit of net zero mining. Held in advance of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada’s (PDAC) 2021 annual conference, the webinar featured in-depth discussions on the many benefits and opportunities that SMRs hold as a clean energy solution for Canada’s mining and mineral extraction industry, and what must be done to seize them.
Among the speakers at the webinar series was Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources, who spoke about the potential for SMRs to support the mining industry as they strive to lower emissions, while extracting the very minerals and metals needed to drive clean energy technologies. “Demonstrating SMRs can support cleaner mining, so it’s only appropriate that it should be led by Canada. After all, Canada is both a major mining country and a leading nuclear nation,” commented Lefebvre. “SMRs are a potential tool to meet our goal of net zero emissions by 2050.”
“Small modular reactors could transform the way we power Canada’s mining industry, serving as a cost-effective, safe, reliable and – most importantly – carbon-free alternative to diesel fuel,” commented Joe McBrearty, CNL’s President and CEO, during the webinar. “Overall, SMRs represent a real opportunity for the mining sector to reduce its carbon footprint and protect its bottom line, while embracing a clean energy technology that recent polling has shown over 87 per cent of Canadians support, or are open to, as an alternative to fossil fuels.”
“Canada is in a leadership position in SMRs for off-grid application, and has a unique opportunity to leverage its global positions in mining and nuclear to create options for off-grid energy that serve all of our economic, climate and sustainability goals,” added Fred Dermarkar, President and CEO of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).
In addition to an examination of SMR technologies currently under development, the webinar series featured discussions on: the role of government in supporting the deployment of SMR technology; the imperative of public and Indigenous engagement, and willing host communities; and the unique and timely opportunity Canada has to lead on the development of off-grid very small modular reactors (vSMRs).
CNL has identified SMRs as one of several strategic initiatives the company is pursuing, with the goal of siting a demonstration project on one of AECL’s sites which CNL manages. The company is working to demonstrate the commercial viability of SMRs and has positioned itself as a global leader in SMR prototype testing and technology development support. As part of the program, CNL issued an invitation in 2018 to SMR developers to apply to site an SMR demonstration reactor at a CNL-managed site. At present, there are four proponents engaged in various stages of the invitation process.
“To successfully bring this technology online here in Canada, it will require a broad coalition of industry leaders and policy makers who understand the long-term advantages to this clean energy solution,” commented Keyes Niemer, CNL’s Project Manager of SMR Development. “Mining is a key industry that stands to benefit from SMRs, and not just from an environmental perspective. SMRs can also unlock new opportunities for mining companies, opening up remote or otherwise inaccessible locations to resource exploration and extraction.”
For more information on CNL, including its SMR program, please visit www.cnl.ca/smr.