State of Play report highlights expected solar dominance in future mine power mix

The State of Play’s latest industry report has highlighted the increasing prevalence of solar use across the Australian mining landscape, with global mining leaders predicting that solar will be the main energy source in just 15 years as the sector shifts to renewables.

The report, The State of Play: Mining Strategy in a Changing World, received input from over 700 global mining leaders, from major mining groups such as Rio Tinto, BHP and South 32. It uncovered mining leaders predicting oil and diesel will only contribute around 20% of the future energy source for the industry, with 79% indicating solar will be the main energy source over the next 15 years.

The predicted shift comes as pressure mounts for the mining sector to do more in the space of renewables with the majority of mining leaders (91%) believing they are viewed negatively by society as a whole with respect to climate, the report states.

State of Play Chair, Graeme Stanway, says the energy transition, alongside a government push to capitalise on green critical minerals, provides a viable pathway for industry to take action and catalyse industry-wide transition.

“Our data shows that both the energy transition and environmental pressures are in the top three global trends that are expected to have the biggest impact on innovation and change in the mining over the next 15 years,” he said. “Society is expecting the mining industry to step up, and as a consequence we are seeing innovations in processing, new energy sources and technologies. Technology like long duration energy storage has come a long way in the last few years, as has the use of artificial intelligence.”

Companies such as Bellevue Gold (solar operation pictured above) are in the process of developing assets with over 80% renewable penetration, while others, such as Gold Fields, have trialled numerous electric vehicles.

Other insights from the report include:

  • 56% of all respondents stating geopolitical alliances will have the biggest impact on global supply chains in the mining industry;
  • 81% of respondents believe battery minerals will offer the most attractive investment returns over the next 15 years;
  • Nearly 70% of CEOs suggested their timeframe for innovation focus was less than three years; and
  • 67% of respondents stated they believed there would be a carbon-based price differential for their commodities in the next five years.