You might be surprised to hear that a new frontier of renewable energy usage lies in the mining sector. While they’re not at odds with one another, mining and renewable energy would hardly be routinely placed in the same camp. However, renewable energy is making its way into the sector for one very good reason: it’s extremely cost effective.
This specifically pertains to off-grid energy, which can cost up to 70 percent less than diesel power at mining sites. Diesel can be expensive to transport and utilize at remote sites, while devices such as solar panels and wind turbines are much easier to transport and can run much cheaper.
Sustainable consulting company THEnergy’s Renewables & Mining Platform aims to provide mining companies with the information they need in order to discern which type of renewable energy could best serve its operations. Providing companies with these tools can be the first step to greater acceptance of renewable in mining.
“Mining companies are often considered as not willing to make changes towards environmental friendly solutions,” THEnergy writes, “but that perception may be changing as some companies turn to solar & wind energy to cut costs and improve their corporate sustainability.”
The consulting company points to challenges within the mining sector, such as higher electricity needs and price pressure in key products such as gold, as driving factors of renewable acceptance.
One of the sites the site points to is Galaxy Resources’ lithium mine at Mt. Cattlin in Australia, around 540 south of Perth. Between 10 to 15 percent of the sites operations are run on renewable energy, saving the company around 200 tons of carbon emissions annually. For this specific site, the wind is strong and blustery, making wind turbines a great choice for moving towards 100 renewable energy.
"Successful examples in the same industry are very often the catalyst that lays the basis for a breakthrough. They eliminate existing doubts to a large extent," Dr. Thomas Hillig, the founder of THEnergy, said.
As more off-grid tech emerges, it could take greater hold in the mining sector very quickly. Costs are rapidly falling and that means a higher acceptance rate, especially when the initial financial investment is low and the returns are quite high. The fact is, renewable energy is competitive and people are starting to take notice.