A remote mining project can be thought of as a miniature energy ecosystem. On the demand side, energy inputs are required around the clock to power drilling and excavation equipment, operate haulage trucks, keep working areas illuminated, and meet the staff’s daily needs. On the supply side, diesel fuel predominates—both for directly powering machinery and for use in generator sets. As with any energy system, reliance on external energy sources is a bad strategy for keeping costs down. Electricity generation alone accounts for between 15% and 40% of a typical mining project’s operational expenditures according to Guidehouse Insights’ Commercial and Industrial Microgrids report.
It is little wonder that mining players are turning to alternative energy sources to meet a rising share of onsite energy and resiliency requirements. Once deployed, renewable energy resources generate electricity at close to zero additional cost per unit delivered, enabling power purchase agreements to be set at a predetermined price. Complementary technologies such as battery storage and hydrogen electrolyzers can help ensure that this energy is in a useful form and available when needed. The number of mining projects that have announced plans for or implemented clean energy technologies is increasing quickly, led by initiatives in Australia, South America, and Africa.
Solar plus Storage (plus Hydrogen)
One recent example is BHP’s nickel mining operations in Western Australia, where construction has started on a 38 MW solar farm and a 10 MW battery storage system to replace onsite diesel and gas […]