Energy Security for the Mining Industry
Securing a reliable energy supply is a paramount concern for nations the world over. But for international mining companies, looking beyond the territorial boundaries of their headquarters and assessing energy security in lands far afield is critical if the business is to stay afloat.
For many mining companies, the time has come to take matters into their own hands. With more operations in developing countries than anywhere else in the world, they have already suffered from enforced power black-outs, intermittent power supplies and reliance on diesel power and they are now determined to take a more active approach in controlling their own power sources.
Secure energy is a top priority. Energy has to be reliable, uninterrupted, affordable and sustainable. Unreliable and unpredictable power supply is responsible for potentially significant productivity and income losses and can negatively impact a project feasibility.
Mining operations in remote areas rely solely on diesel generation for their energy needs. Yet diesel generation is subject to high diesel fuel costs, price manipulation, erratic supply and shortages paired with high transportation, storage, maintenance and lifecycle costs.
Diesel generation is costly indeed but is in most cases the perceived number one choice when the alternative is bringing power through transmission lines over long distances. Diesel generation also adds to the environmental impact associated with all mining activities in the form of GHG emissions.
Looking forward, mining companies need now to concentrate on estimating their future needs and finding innovative ways to approach the escalating problem of increased energy demand where it fails to meet capacity from existing infrastructures and increases operational costs. In our current economic environment incremental energy cost savings can and will have a greater impact on the feasibility of new projects.
By stripping out the unchangeable factors at each mining operation and then looking at how it is possible to reduce energy consumption, one can produce an analysis of just how much electricity use can be reduced – and how much will still be needed – across all of the project sites. The essential power need can in turn be managed for optimum efficiency and reliability.
More than ever investing in alternative power and renewable energy generation is the most socially, environmentally and economically responsible solution to address power needs and power security.
Wind and solar farms in conjunction with power storage technologies have now become attractive solutions, whether your operations are connected to a grid system or supported by stand alone power systems in remote areas where grid access is not an option.
Often forming joint ventures may be the best approach and can take the form of buying or leasing land and then contracting out the power-generation system and operation to a separate entity, leaving you to concentrate on the business of mining while your power provider takes care of your power needs.
The key is to take a proactive approach in controlling power sources and generation for a dependable energy supply while reducing costs and improving the bottom line.
Global Solaris Group provides tools and services to help you make decisions that will be beneficial to your company while reducing your environmental footprint.