An electric hydraulic shovel – the first of its kind for New Zealand – is to be commissioned at OceanaGold’s Macraes Operation in early 2023. The company estimates that from its use alone, the expected annual carbon emissions reductions would be around 3,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) per year. Increasing renewably-generated power, offsetting and electrifying the mining fleet is part of OceanaGold’s plan to increase efficiency and reduce emissions across its operations, as the company works towards an interim 2030 climate change target – to reduce carbon emissions per ounce of gold produced by 30% by 2030.
Recognising the journey will not be linear to reach its broader goal of net zero emissions by 2050, the company is implementing targeted, incremental change and the purchase of an electric shovel at the Macraes Operation is one of many initiatives the company is delivering in the transformation towards less emissions intensive gold production.
Pieter Doelman, Open Pit Mine Manager at the Macraes Operation, said the electric shovel was a significant and worthy investment. “The Macraes Operation is updating one of its large mining excavators and rather than replacing it with another diesel operated machine, we’re making the switch to an electric powered machine. The value of this investment is most certainly in achieving lower energy and carbon costs at the Macraes Operation, however maintaining the electric motor is also more cost efficient than a diesel motor, so we expect to see long-term savings,” he said.
Supporting the project is the New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). EECA works with industry to increase the use of clean and clever energy across New Zealand, and they recently partnered with the Macraes Operation to provide partial funding for the new machine as part of its technology demonstration fund.
Nicki Sutherland, EECA’s Group Manager of Investment and Engagement, said the introduction of an electric hydraulic shovel in New Zealand was a first that could, if successful, be replicated. “The project is expected to deliver large carbon abatement and energy savings. It will also mean the introduction of a new technology not previously used in mining in New Zealand – and holds potential not only for other sites but also other sectors,” she said.
Greg Scanlan, Acting EVP for Sustainability and Social Performance, said critical, innovative thinking was being applied across all OceanaGold’s operations to identify opportunities at a local level to reduce emissions. “Technology and innovation are key to decarbonisation and as a responsible miner, we continuously improve and innovate the way we explore, extract and process minerals. Clear actions are required to reach decarbonisation and rapid advances in technology and innovation, including electrification, are central to the mining industry’s commitment to reducing its environmental footprint,” he said.
He added: “Phasing out diesel use and taking advantage of New Zealand’s high renewable energy supply in the national grid (with over 80% generated from renewable sources), is a key part of our strategy and pathway to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, and we fully support the New Zealand Government in their drive to achieve this common goal. As the first miner in New Zealand to use an electric hydraulic shovel, we are looking forward to seeing its benefits across productivity, cost reduction, reliability and the measurable reduction of carbon emissions at Macraes.”