Tag Archives: Marc Allen

Weir-backed report highlights decarbonisation opportunities in mineral processing

An independent report, commissioned by the Weir Group, has highlighted the global mining industry’s energy usage, illuminating where energy is consumed and linking it with opportunities and pathways for sector-wide decarbonisation.

The report analyses mine energy use from over 40 published studies, centred on five commodities – copper, gold, iron ore, nickel and lithium. For these five metals, it finds comminution – the crushing and grinding of rocks – alone accounts for 25% of final energy consumption at an ‘average’ mine site. Extended across all hard-rock mining, this is equivalent to up to 1% of total final energy consumption globally.

The report reconfirms comminution as a key target for energy and emissions reduction efforts.

These findings align with the mission of the Coalition for Energy Efficient Comminution (CEEC), a global initiative to accelerate eco-efficient minerals, with a focus on energy-efficient comminution. It also extends on previous CEEC messaging, indicating up to 3% of global electrical energy is used in comminution when considering all mined commodities, quarrying and cement production.

In addition to optimising comminution, the report also highlights other energy and emissions reduction opportunities such as the redesign of grinding circuits at greenfield sites, improved drill and blast approaches, pre-concentration, and the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve decision making.

The report emphasises the mining industry’s crucial role in supporting the transition to net zero emissions, needed to limit global temperatures in line with the Paris Agreement, CEEC says. This includes more efficient and sustainable technologies if the industry is to meet the challenge of decarbonisation.

“Despite the scale of the challenge, the report underlines that small improvements in existing mines can lead to large savings in both energy consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” CEEC said.

Report author, Marc Allen, states a 5% incremental improvement in energy efficiency across comminution could result in greenhouse gas emission reductions of more than 30 Mt of CO2e.

Allen said: “A relatively modest 5% improvement in comminution across the industry may result in emissions reductions close to the total emissions for New Zealand (35 Mt CO2e).

“A more robust energy audit process and implementation of low-cost opportunities across a mine and process plant may result in total energy savings of up to 10-15% and overall emissions reductions of over 200 Mt of CO2e per annum, depending on the source of electricity.

“Large-scale introduction of renewable energy provides the potential to reduce emissions significantly in the industry – hundreds of millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas savings when there is widespread adoption of renewable energy and energy storage.”

CEEC CEO, Alison Keogh, commended Weir for commissioning this timely work, and all industry leaders taking proactive steps to reduce mining’s footprint. She said outstanding CEEC Medal winning work and 700 published advances have already shared good options for miners to consider, thanks to CEEC sponsors, volunteers and authors.

She urged industry to collaborate to accelerate decarbonisation steps.

“More open knowledge sharing helps speed installations of renewables and energy-efficient approaches across all of industry,” Keogh said. “Benefits also include increased productivity, shareholder value, and financing as companies demonstrate performance towards net zero emissions sooner.”

She cited three key collaboration actions vital to success: (1) sharing best practices, to ensure existing mines and processing plants are better informed and take actions earlier to become more energy and water efficient; (2) sharing new technologies, designs and innovations; and (3) supporting test work and pilots of novel technology on sites and at increasing scales.

Keogh called for greater industry dialogue, noting: “This report highlights both a challenge and an opportunity to revitalise cross-industry discussion and actions on decarbonisation and ESG solutions. Weir is one of many visionary CEEC sponsors supporting public good initiatives like CEEC; we invite industry leaders to actively contribute and collaborate through mining-vendor-research partnerships and share knowledge, site case studies and net zero plans via independent organisations such as CEEC.

“Together, we can accelerate improved energy, emissions and water footprint across industry faster.”

Weir Group Chief Executive, Jon Stanton, commented: “Mining needs to become more sustainable and efficient if it is to provide essential resources the world needs for decarbonisation while reducing its own environmental impact. This report is an important contribution to that debate which we hope will spark thoughtful conversations around the world on the way forward.”

CEEC’s latest workshop to examine new gen energy options for miners

With more and more mining sector interest in energy efficiency and uptake of renewables, the global not-for-profit communication hub for energy efficient mineral processing, CEEC, says it is running a series of workshops to share the latest developments in this field.

The next one-day Mineral Processing and Innovation Workshop on Energy Curves, Productivity and New Gen Energy, will be held at the National Wine Centre in Adelaide on June 19.

This event is due to kick off with a keynote address from OZ Minerals CEO and MD, Andrew Cole, who will share his vision for steering smart energy and productivity for sustainable mining, processing and communities.

Marc Allen, CEEC Director and Technical Director at engeco, said there was a worldwide trend towards new-generation energy options such as solar, battery-electric power and hydrogen – not only in the sector but for global power generation to combat climate change.

“The paradox is that these low carbon technologies are minerals intensive, and metals such as copper, nickel, lithium and cobalt will be required in greater volumes to make this transition possible,” Allen said.

“The shift towards a decarbonised energy future has significant ramifications for the global mining industry, particularly given the energy intensive nature of comminution and mining, coupled with the remoteness of most mineral deposits.”

Allen said renewable energy sources with low carbon energy backup options and/or energy storage were becoming more and more common in mines, with one leading example being the solar project at Degrussa Copper-Gold Mine in Western Australia.

Sandfire Resources’ Degrussa Solar project, commissioned in 2016, is reported to be the world’s largest integrated off-grid solar and battery storage facility. It supplies about 20% of the mine’s annual power requirements and has reduced emissions by close to 12,000 t/y of carbon dioxide, according to CEEC.

“South Australia is also leading the way with adopting new-gen energy. BHP is trialling zero-emission light electric vehicles at its Olympic Dam mine and has plans to progressively replace diesel fuel with lithium-ion batteries,” Allen said.

Canada’s first all-electric mine (Borden) is also on the cards, being constructed by CEEC sponsors Newmont-Goldcorp, Sandvik and MacLean Engineering.

Allen said: “Newmont-Goldcorp’s target is to increase energy efficiency by 15% over five years and source 5% of its energy from renewables. It’s pleasing to see that other major mining companies are fast following suit, introducing bold targets to shrink their carbon and energy footprint.”

Another standout country is Chile, with reports of nine companies, including copper miners Codelco and Antofagasta Minerals, introducing renewable energy such as wind and solar power.

In addition to transitioning to clean energy technologies, mining operations are striving to improve the energy efficiency of comminution. In Australia, alone, copper and gold mines’ comminution processes consume 1.3% of national electricity production, as well as being key constraints to site productivity, value and mining footprint.

Speakers and panellists at the CEEC Mineral Processing and Innovation Workshop in Adelaide on June 19 will share the latest technologies and methodologies being employed to boost energy efficiency, value and productivity in processing plants and mine sites, according to CEEC.

Keynote speaker Cole will be joined by leading mining, METS and research experts from across Australia, including Energy Curve researcher Dr Cathy Evans, Senior Research Fellow, University of Queensland Sustainable Minerals Institute; Professor Stephen Grano, Executive Director, Institute for Mineral and Energy Resources, University of Adelaide; and Professor Bill Skinner, Research Leader, Future Industries Institute, University of South Australia.

With data science and AI also being key drivers for improving operational efficiency and dispatch of electrical energy, workshop participants will hear from PETRA Data Science’s Managing Director, Dr Penny Stewart, and Technical Director, Dr Zeljka Pokrajcic.

Innovative METS leaders, including Greg Lane, Ausenco; Sandy Gray, Gekko Systems; and Bear Rock Solutions’ Dr Ted Bearman and Adjunct Professor Rob Dunne, will present practical advances in comminution technology.

Insights into South Australia mining and mineral processing innovations will be provided by Joe Seppelt, OZ Minerals Processing Manager at the Carrapateena copper-gold project, north of Port Augusta, and Enzo Artone, BHP Area Manager, Mill and Process Minerals, BFX Project, Olympic Dam.

To register or find out more about the workshop, which will be held at the National Wine Centre, click here.