The four windmills dug into northern Canada’s tundra that power Rio Tinto’s $5.2 billion Diavik diamond mine are the world’s first designed to work in gusts as cold as 40 degrees below zero.
The mining company has sunk $30 million into wind energy because roads are frozen and closed to diesel fuel deliveries for 10 months a year.
Near the opposite pole, in Argentina, Barrick Gold is testing the highest wind turbine at 4,100 meters (13,450 feet), an altitude almost halfway up Mt. Everest. The machine was designed for low air density and provides 20 percent of a Barrick gold mine’s power on windy days.