Tag Archives: renewable energy

BHP ties up 100% of Nickel West power requirements with renewables

BHP says it has secured enough renewable energy to cover 100% of the power requirements of three of its major nickel operations in Western Australia, following the signing of a new Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Enel Green Power.

The PPA between BHP and Enel Green Power will underpin construction of stage 1 of the Flat Rocks Wind Farm near the Great Southern town of Kojonup, it said.

Stage 1 is expected to create 120 jobs during construction and up to 10 locally-based roles once operational. Construction is due to begin in July 2022, and first power is expected in October 2023.

The new wind farm will comprise the 18 tallest wind turbines in Western Australia at a tip height of 200 m and is expected to produce 315 GWh/y.

Under the renewable PPA with Enel Green Power, the Flat Rocks Wind Farm will generate the equivalent of 100% of the current power requirements for Nickel West’s Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter and Kambalda Nickel Concentrator from 2024.

The combined output of the Flat Rocks Wind Farm, through the PPA, and the recently announced Merredin Solar Farm PPA, is enough to cover the current power requirements of all three of Nickel West’s downstream facilities – the Kalgoorlie Nickel Smelter, the Kambalda Nickel Concentrator and the Kwinana Nickel Refinery, which are connected to the South West Interconnected System (SWIS).

Renewable energy from the Flat Rocks Wind Farm is expected to reduce Nickel West’s market based Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by just under one third against BHP’s financial year 2020 baseline levels from 2024 based on current forecast demand.

The combined effect from BHP’s agreements for the Flat Rocks Wind Farm, the Merredin Solar Farm and the Northern Goldfields Solar Project is expected to reduce Nickel West’s total market based Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 60% against the 2020 financial year baseline levels from 2024, based on current forecast demand.

The Italian-owned Enel Green Power and Moonies Hill Energy, owned by local landowners, have been working on the co-development of Flat Rocks Wind Farm since 2016. The windfarm covers the Shire of Kojonup and Shire of Broomehill-Tambellup.

The area around Kojonup, which is one of Western Australia’s oldest towns and has a rich local history and large Italian population, is an ideal location due to its strong winds and being situated on the southern part of the SWIS, BHP said.

The Flat Rocks Wind Farm will have a capacity factor of nearly 50%, which is one of the highest in the country, complementing BHP’s use of solar from the Merredin Solar Farm, well positioning Nickel West for a reliable supply of renewable energy over a 24-hour period, it added.

Zenith Energy to roll out 5B Maverick solar system across Australian mine sites

Renewable energy penetration is set to increase on major mine sites in the Goldfields and Pilbara regions of Australia, after Zenith Energy and 5B signed a deployment agreement that could see the 5B Maverick™ system rolled out.

Zenith, one of Australia’s leading independent power producers, and 5B, a clean energy technology provider, signed an Ecosystem Framework Agreement-Deployment, permitting Zenith to be a deployment partner of the 5B Maverick system within Australia.

The 5B Maverick system solar array is prefabricated, allowing rapid deployment while increasing the ability of Zenith to expand renewable assets across existing and future sites, Zenith said. Each 5B Maverick array consists of up to 90 solar panels, mounted on specially designed racks, and optimised for the 540-550 W module class of the utility scale solar industry.

Zenith Managing Director, Hamish Moffat, said the partnership represents the next step in reducing emissions across Zenith’s legacy portfolio.

“We’ve been looking to increase renewable assets across multiple sites for some time; the question has always been around how we can achieve that in such a way that is economically viable,” he said. “The 5B Maverick system is re-deployable, meaning it can be integrated on mines with shorter tenure, and moved at the end of operations at those sites.”

He added: “It offers Zenith greater ability to leverage value from our initial capital expenditure, making it more cost effective to offer expanded renewable energy solutions for our clients.”

5B Co-Founder and CEO, Chris McGrath, said the strategic partnership is an important validation of 5B Maverick’s ability to reduce deployment complexity.

“This has been a major barrier for solar installations on mine sites worldwide,” he said. “The agreement also shows that our cost reduction efforts over the past two years have worked – we’ve hit the price point where 5B Mavericks can be viably packed up and redeployed elsewhere, substantially reducing the risk of stranded assets in mining, agricultural and industrial operations.”

Moffat said Zenith is looking to integrate the 5B Maverick system across three sites initially. These include:

  • Nova: The 5B Maverick will play a major role in Zenith’s industry first ‘engine-off’ project at IGO’s Nova nickel mine, allowing the site to operate on up to nine consecutive hours of renewable energy through the installation of an extra 10 MW of solar, and a 10 MW battery energy storage system;
  • Warrawoona: Zenith recently committed to the supply, installation, and commissioning of a 4 MW DC Solar Farm, using the 5B Maverick, as well as a 3 MW/3 MWh AC battery energy storage system at Warrawoona, owned by Calidus Resources. The hybrid power station configuration will reduce gas use, which in turn results in a reduction in emissions; and
  • King of The Hills: Work is currently underway to install 2 MW of 5B Maverick on the Red 5 site, also supported by a battery energy storage system.

Moffat said the 5B agreement is another key milestone on the company’s journey toward ‘net zero’.

“Our 2035 ‘net zero’ target strikes a balance between ambition and ability to achieve, with the 5B partnership a clear demonstration of our progress and commitment to this goal,” he said.

McGrath said 5B was keen to partner with Zenith, given the independent power producer’s strong reputation and credibility in providing renewable energy solutions to the mining and resources industry.

“We’re keen to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with like-minded companies, and Zenith definitely fits the bill,” he said. “It is great to see Zenith leveraging the ability of the 5B Maverick solar arrays to deploy up to 10 times faster, more safely than single axis tracker and fixed tilt solar systems, to deliver a full solution for their customers.”

Moffat said the partnership offers both Zenith and 5B the opportunity to continue to lead the industry, demonstrating the ability and capacity to effectively integrate renewable energy solutions.

“We have continually said we want to be part of the renewable solution, not just by developing the concepts needed, but by also actively deploying and proving the technology,” he said. “The partnership with 5B allows us to do this and continue to bring our clients on the glide path to ‘net zero’.”

APA Group to deliver solar power to MMG’s Dugald River mine

Stage one of APA Group’s plan to build an 88 MW solar farm in Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia, has got underway with a Final Investment Decision to construct 44 MW of capacity to serve MMG’s Dugald River zinc-lead mine in the state.

The investment of more than A$80 million ($60 million) will see APA Group provide solar power to the mine as part of a 15-year offtake agreement.

APA also entered into a 32-year lease agreement with the Queensland Government to locate the solar farm on a site near APA’s Diamantina Power Station Complex. The first stage of the solar farm is expected to be operational by the March quarter of 2023, while APA says it is in advanced discussions with a number of customers to commit to the development of stage two, reaching 88 MW.

APA CEO and Managing Director, Rob Wheals, said the Mica Creek Solar Farm will deliver lower emissions power underpinned by the reliability of APA’s gas-fired power, while reducing the average cost and emissions of power across Mount Isa.

MMG, meanwhile, said the solar agreement will supply Dugald River with renewable energy to reduce its carbon footprint and provide immediate energy cost savings once operational in early 2023.

“The new agreement further supports MMG’s commitment to supporting the global transition to a low carbon economy with the company’s key products, copper and zinc, playing a critical role in the development of sustainable technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicles and batteries,” it added.

BHP closes in on renewable energy supply for Olympic Dam mine

BHP says it expects to shortly enter into renewable energy supply arrangements to enable the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia to reduce its emission position to zero for 50% of its electricity consumption by 2025, based on current forecast demand.

The arrangements will be supplied by Iberdrola, including from the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park in South Australia, which is expected to be Australia’s largest solar-wind hybrid plant once in operation in July 2022.

BHP is to become the primary customer of this new renewable facility, with the renewable energy supply arrangements referred to including a retail agreement with Origin Energy, who will facilitate the arrangements.

This announcement follows BHP’s entry into renewable energy agreements for BHP’s operations in Western Australia in 2021, Queensland in 2020 and in Chile in 2019.

BHP Olympic Dam Asset President, Jennifer Purdie, said: “These arrangements will support an exciting new renewable energy project which will contribute to South Australia’s renewable energy ambitions.

“Olympic Dam’s copper has an important role to play to support global decarbonisation and the energy transition as an essential product in electric vehicles and renewable infrastructure. Reducing emissions from our operations will further enhance our position as a sustainable copper producer.”

Iberdrola Australia Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Ross Rolfe, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with BHP, helping them meet their decarbonisation and sustainability objectives. We worked very closely with BHP to design these bespoke renewable energy supply arrangements. Olympic Dam is to be the primary customer for the Port Augusta Renewable Energy Park, a demonstration of their commitment to local procurement and sustainable economic development.”

The arrangements, intended to commence on July 1, 2022, are one of the actions BHP is taking to contribute to its medium-term target to reduce operational greenhouse gas emissions (Scope 1 and 2) from its operated assets by at least 30% from financial year 2020 levels by financial year 2030.

Orica addresses Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions in latest GHG reduction pledge

Orica has announced its ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, covering Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and its most “material” Scope 3 GHG emission sources.

The ambition builds on Orica’s previously announced medium-term target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 operational emissions by at least 40% by 2030.

To advance its net zero emissions ambition, Orica says it will:

  • Continue to reduce its operational footprint: prioritising Scope 1 and 2 operational emissions reductions by deploying tertiary catalyst abatement technology, sourcing renewable energy and optimising energy efficiency and industrial processes;
  • Collaborate with its suppliers: as new and emerging technologies scale and become commercial, partner with suppliers to source lower emissions intensity ammonium nitrate (AN) and ammonia to reduce Orica’s Scope 3 emissions, which account for approximately 70% of Orica’s total Scope 3 emissions;
  • Prioritise lower carbon solutions: developing lower carbon AN, as well as new products, services and technology offerings to help customers achieve their own sustainability goals; and
  • Report progress: transparently disclose performance consistent with the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure.

Orica Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Sanjeev Gandhi, said: “Our ambition of net zero emissions by 2050 shows our commitment to playing a part in achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. This is a strong signal that the decarbonisation of Orica will, and must, continue beyond 2030 and requires a collaborative approach across all of our stakeholders.

“We’re making solid progress having already achieved a 9% emissions reduction in financial year 2020 (to June 30, 2020) and further reductions this financial year. We’ve taken our 2030 medium-term target and extended our planning over the long term, developing a credible roadmap to support our ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“Over the next decade, Orica is deploying tertiary catalyst abatement, prioritising renewable energy opportunities and supporting a trial of carbon capture utilisation and storage technology. Beyond 2030, how we achieve our ambition is dependent on effective global policy frameworks, supportive regulation and financial incentives, and access to new and emerging technologies operating at commercial scale.

“Orica is a company with a long history of technical innovation which is already helping our customers improve mine site safety, productivity and efficiency. We will apply the same approach by deploying low-emissions technologies to our major manufacturing sites and working with our global suppliers and stakeholders on reducing the footprint of our supply chain.”

Orica says it has already undertaken several initiatives to drive action towards its medium-term target and support its 2050 net zero emissions ambition.

In FY2020, Orica’s Bontang AN manufacturing facility in Indonesia recorded a 43% reduction in net emissions and its Kooragang Island nitrates manufacturing plant (pictured below) in Australia achieved a 6.3% reduction in net emissions, by replacing and improving the performance of selective catalyst abatement technologies, the company said.

In partnership with the Alberta Government this year, Orica’s Carseland AN manufacturing facility in Canada has commissioned tertiary catalyst abatement technology, reducing emissions by approximately 83,000 t/y of CO2e.

Orica has assigned approximately A$45 million ($33 million) over the next five years in capital to deploy similar tertiary abatement technology across its Australian AN sites, which, it says, could deliver an annual reduction of 750,000 t CO2e.

Orica will also support the construction of a mobile demonstration plant of carbon capture, utilisation and storage technology at its Kooragang Island manufacturing facility, led by Mineral Carbonation International, in partnership with the Australian Government and the University of Newcastle. The plant is scheduled to be built on Orica’s Kooragang Island site by the end of 2023 and have direct access to some 250,000 t of captured CO2 from Orica’s manufacturing operations.

Australian Potash enlists help of PWR Hybrid for Lake Wells renewable microgrid

Australian Potash Ltd says PWR Hybrid has been awarded “Preferred Proponent status” to build, own and operate a circa-35 MW hybrid renewable microgrid at its Lake Wells sulphate of potash project (LSOP) in Western Australia.

The power purchase agreement will be finalised through the early contractor involvement process the companies will now progress, with an improved indicative levelised cost of energy to the recently published front end engineering design study, Australian Potash said.

PWR Hybrid brings over 28 years of experience in developing power solutions to remote sites across the globe, including more than 350 MW of solar installations, according to the company.

The company also commissioned an assessment of the LSOP’s greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint as part of its preparation for compliance with the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) regime, effective in Europe from March 10, 2021. This assessment, taking into consideration the power balance across the project and energy usage through to ports of loading in Western Australia, concluded that the LSOP will produce a CO2-e GHG that is materially lower than either a comparable Mannheim operation (LSOP<Mannheim by 69%) or solar-salt/brine operation (LSOP<other by 49%), the company said.

Australian Potash Managing Director and CEO, Matt Shackleton, said: “Strategically, we shifted the focus of the LSOP development and operations to a sustainable energy footing to capture and leverage the already low GHG footprint of a solar-salt project. With the benefit of time, and rigorous and methodical planning, several alternative configurations for the LSOP microgrid were presented and assessed.

“With our vision on the operational future of the LSOP, and therefore our end users, we consider it vital to address sustainable production of SOP as a critical path item. To that end, we have commissioned a formal, rigorous ESG audit of the LSOP which will further provide our distribution partners, end users and investors with third party validation of the project’s ESG qualities.”

The LSOP microgrid will be developed in a staged approach, with the thermal component to be completed within around 15 months of the company making a final investment decision. This timeline ensures power supply preparedness for steady-state operations.

PWR Hybrid’s Director, Ryan Green, said: “We’re extremely pleased to be awarded preferred bidder status by Australian Potash. This is further recognition of PWR Hybrid’s capabilities in the hybrid power station market.

“Having recently delivered a 12 MW gas-fired power station in Western Australia, and commenced work on the hybridisation of that project, the company is well-positioned to partner with Australian Potash to provide an industry-leading hybrid power station at the LSOP.”

Key outcomes from the 2019 definitive feasibility study on Lake Wells include:

  • 30-year mine life producing 150,000 t/y of premium grade SOP utilising approximately 21% of the total measured resource estimate;
  • Long mine life underpinned by 3.6 Mt reserve and 18.1 Mt measured resource estimate;
  • Development capex of A$208 million ($153 million) with capital intensity of A$1,387/t; and
  • First quartile industry operating costs of $262/t providing high cash operating margins.

Photo credit: juwi

New Kalgoorlie metals research lab to pave the way for mining’s greener future

Curtin University is to open a new research lab geared towards carbon-neutral metal production paths at its Kalgoorlie campus in Western Australia.

Curtin’s WA School of Mines: Minerals, Energy and Chemical Engineering Head of School, Professor Michael Hitch, said the Kalgoorlie Metals Research Laboratory would explore cleaner alternatives through teaching and research that would pave the way for a greener future for the industry.

“The Kalgoorlie Metals Research Laboratory will provide undergraduate students with practical education in carbon-neutral metal production paths, which is particularly important given they are the generation that will help decarbonise the mining industry in the most challenging area of pyrometallurgy,” Professor Hitch said.

Iron ore processing expert, Dr John Clout, has been appointed the Professor of Practice in Pyrometallurgy at the lab with Curtin’s WA School of Mines Kalgoorlie Director, Sabina Shugg, saying he would oversee a high-tech laboratory, fitted with experimental high temperature furnace equipment, capable of simulating the complete industrial process to test renewable energy and green hydrogen sources in the metal extraction process of pyrometallurgy, which currently require fossil fuels.

“Highly respected in the field of pyrometallurgy, Professor Clout will bring real-world experience to the laboratory’s teaching and research, ensuring we contribute to a sustainable future for the Western Australia resources industry,” Shugg said.

Professor Clout said he was thrilled to support the new research hub’s development as an internationally-recognised laboratory and pilot-scale pyrometallurgical research facility for undergraduate teaching and applied research.

“The Kalgoorlie Metals Research Laboratory will aim to develop end-to-end production paths that set new standards for efficiency, value and carbon neutral management, which will ultimately support a cleaner future,” he said.

“After working in the gold, iron ore and nickel industries for more than four decades, I am especially excited to be working with the future leaders of the resources sector to find the most efficient renewable energy sources and processes for pyrometallurgy.

“There is significant potential for industry to be extracting and producing critical metals right here in Western Australia, especially in the Goldfields where there is significant scope for renewal energy production, untapped critical mineral resources, an existing infrastructure network and workforce.”

The Kalgoorlie Metals Research Laboratory has been established as the result of a A$600,000 ($443,697) grant from Curtin University.

The new research facility is also seeking support from industry and private donors for the purchase of additional equipment and ongoing industry-funded projects.

BHP and TransAlta agree on solar, battery power system for Mt Keith and Leinster

BHP and its power partner in the Goldfields of Western Australia, TransAlta, are to build two solar farms and a battery storage system to help power the Mt Keith and Leinster nickel operations.

This will help BHP reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12%, based on financial year 2020 levels.

The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will include a 27.4 MW solar farm at Mt Keith and a 10.7 MW solar farm and 10.1 MW battery at Leinster, and will displace power currently supplied by diesel and gas turbine generation, BHP said.

This will result in an estimated reduction of 540,000 t of CO2e over the first 10 years of operation. This is the equivalent of removing up to 23,000 combustion engine cars from the road every year, according to BHP.

BHP commissioned the solar farms and battery to be built, owned, and operated by TransAlta as part of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) extension signed in October 2020. Construction will commence in the December quarter, is expected to take 12-14 months and, at its peak, will employ over 100 people on site.

BHP Nickel West, Asset President, Eddy Haegel, said: “This is the first large-scale onsite solar farm and battery that BHP has commissioned at any of its global operations.

“The Northern Goldfields Solar Project will further improve our position as one of the lowest carbon nickel miners in the world. It will reduce emissions from electricity use at Mt Keith and Leinster by 12%, reduce fuel costs and improve the reliability of our electricity supply with the addition of the battery storage system.

“This announcement follows the nickel supply agreement we signed with Tesla last week. Sustainable low carbon nickel is essential for our battery and electric vehicle customers.”

TransAlta Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer, John Kousinioris, said: “We are proud to be supporting BHP’s emissions reduction targets and sustainability goals through the expansion of our renewable generation footprint into Australia.”

The partnership will contribute to BHP’s medium-term target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions from our operated assets by at least 30% from financial year 2020 levels by its 2030 financial year.

The project is subject to final Western Australia state government approvals.

Mader Group hits another quarterly record as it keeps expanding

Mobile and fixed plant equipment maintenance provider Mader Group has declared a stellar set of quarterly financials that included a second consecutive quarterly revenue figure.

Revenue for the three months to the end of June came in at A$86.4 million ($63.5 million), up 24% on the prior corresponding period (PCP), and up 14% on the previous quarter.

Revenue generated in Australia increased to A$77 million, up 21% on the PCP, driven by high levels of customer demand, while, in North America, quarterly revenue increased to A$6.8 million, up 45% on the PCP excluding foreign exchange movements (30% on an A$ basis).

The company said its preparations for operational delivery into Canada were now complete with customer negotiations well advanced.

Reflecting on Mader Group’s quarterly performance, Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer, Justin Nuich, said: “On the back of two consecutive quarters of record revenue growth, we close our books for the financial year with A$304 million in revenue and with a strong earnings result to follow. This is very pleasing and reflects the strength of our labour-focused business model.

“Our operations are more flexible and adaptable than ever, housing a dynamic in-house workforce of more than 1,600 skilled tradespersons deployed across nearly 400 sites globally. In all locations, we have prioritised the needs of our customers and our people, safely delivering over 3.4 million hours of specialised equipment maintenance for financial year 2021.”

During the period, the company continued to develop its internal safety systems to ensure the health and wellbeing of a largely remote workforce. Mader prioritised the continued roll out of a bespoke in-vehicle monitoring system for its service fleet, seeing considerable improvement in driver behaviour over the quarter, it said.

Mader also commenced trialling its safety-focused mobile app to its North American workforce.

The platform, which is already widely accessible to Mader employees within Australia, is designed to connect Mader employees to its digitally integrated safety processes, resources and company alerts.

Within Mader’s Australian operations, the group’s infrastructure and ancillary maintenance service lines remained a key focus in the business’ growth strategy. Continued diversification saw the company expand its ancillary service offerings.

“Moving into climate control support for mobile equipment, Mader supported a renewable energy project in a bid to convert diesel-electric haul trucks, exploration drills and locomotives into zero emissions technology,” the company said.

“Mader also worked with a local OEM to conduct off-site rebuilds for plant conveyors and mills. Revenue generated from the business’s ancillary maintenance services increased 21% vs PCP and by 12% vs PCP for its infrastructure maintenance services.”

Mader said its core service areas also gained traction during the quarter leading to the expansion of its in-field maintenance operations for heavy mobile equipment, driven by high customer demand across Australia. In Western Australia, this included growth in its Rapid Response team and “specialised equipment maintenance offerings”.

The company added: “Our disruptive business model continues to roll out into a large addressable market that has an appetite for significant additional capacity. All of our core business divisions continue to grow and our strategy of building new divisions that address new geographic locations or that provide additional trades and services is driving further growth.

“We are seeing structural advances in the Australian market as large owner-miners continue to develop multibillion-dollar resource projects, ultimately increasing the size of the maintainable mining fleet.”

State of Play mine electrification report sheds light on benefits, hurdles and risks

More than half of mining industry executives say they would electrify their mine sites for cost reasons, according to the latest State of Play report on electrification.

With the mining industry rapidly adopting new technologies to decarbonise their operations, the Australia-based State of Play platform has, again, sought to gather industry perspectives on the reasons companies are pursuing their shift away from fossil fuels.

The latest report follows the inaugural State of Play: Electrification report, released in 2020. This report, in part, led to the formation of the Electric Mine Consortium, a collaboration between mining and service companies aiming to accelerate progress towards the fully electrified zero CO2 and zero particulates mine.

The findings from the latest report – which took into account 450-plus individual surveys, five industry webinars and workshops and five interviews with “thought leaders” – have reinforced that mine electrification is a foundation enabler for the clean energy transformation of mine sites.

“The mining industry sees it as one of the most pressing transformation imperatives for the industry, facilitating precision automation and the digitisation of mine operations, whilst improving environmental and health outcomes,” it said.

At the same time, the report acknowledges that mine electrification technology is currently undergoing a “maturation process” with 49% of mining CEOs referenced in the report believing it will take existing mines on average five-to-10 years to electrify.

“Much of the technology for full electrification of mine sites is available today, however a significant knowledge gap exists across industry relating to the capability of electrified mines and the strategy for implementation,” it said.

Of the industry executives surveyed for the report, 57% expect the energy transition to be ‘the’ global trend that will have the biggest impact on the industry over the next 15 years.

Close to 90% (89%) expect mine sites will electrify within the next 20 years and 61% expect the “next generation” of mines will be all-electric.

In keeping with this, 83% expect renewable energy technologies will significantly change mining operations over the next 15 years; and 98% view mine automation as ‘the’ technology to benefit the most from electrification.

The responses related to benefits expected from this transition brought up some of the most interesting insights into the mine electrification evolution, indicating there are environmental, cost and reputation risk advantages associated with electrifying operations.

For instance, of the survey respondents, just over 90% (91%) expected the shift to an electrified system to create opportunities for new business models, while just over half (53%) say they would electrify their mine sites for cost reasons. The latter indicates that the cost of operating, establishing and maintaining new electrified equipment and infrastructure is now at a point where it could not only compete, but provide an economic advantage over fossil fuel-powered operations in the long term.

Close to four-fifths of respondents (79%) expect there to be a health-related industry class action in the next 15 years – indicating the reputational risk that could come with maintaining the operational status quo.

Some 71% view processing and 68% view extraction as having the greatest leverage in decarbonising the mining value chain, the report confirmed, while 46% expect innovation in carbon emissions and 42% expect innovation in diesel replacement will have the greatest environmental benefit in their business. Close to 90% (86%) expect transparency of the source of raw materials to become a significant driver of mining company value.

In key areas of the value chain, miners are faced with distinct choices of which technology to invest in (eg what type of battery storage technology, swap versus fast charging, etc). Of the survey respondents:

  • 60% believe miners should begin transitioning to an all-electric system with installing renewables. Electrical infrastructure was second with 37%, with heavy mobile equipment third with 32%;
  • 87% expect solar will become the most widely used energy source in the industry in the next 15 years, followed by gas, wind and diesel (58%, 44% and 39%, respectively);
  • 76% expect remote mine sites will use batteries to supplement renewables, followed by diesel with 53% and demand management at 42%;
  • There is no consensus as to which energy source will power heavy mobile equipment between lithium batteries, hybrids and diesel (28%, 21% and 18% respectively); and
  • 54% expect infrastructure to be the main challenge for transitioning mine sites to electric.

Of these stats above, the lack of consensus as to which energy source will power heavy mobile equipment is as enlightening as it is expected.

Battery-electric technology has matured to the point where one would expect it to dominate in the underground space, followed closely by fuel cell power, hybrids and some form of trolley, but it is a lot harder to predict the winner in the open-pit mining space, with major miners pursuing different developments related to hydrogen, batteries, trolley assist and alternative fuels.

“The mass adoption of electrification technology and storage systems to power mine sites has so far been slow,” the report stated. “It is clear that as an industry, this knowledge gap will need to be confronted largely through testing and piloting, which allows for the development of case studies for application, economic models and best practice guidelines.”

Of survey respondents:

  • 88% see cost as being the major risk of electrifying a mine site;
  • 63% report that risk aversion is holding back the implementation of electrification technologies;
  • 18% are willing to accept increased risk in asset design to increase financial returns; and
  • 41% are primarily focusing their innovation efforts on energy.

The report authors say the industry should focus on collaborating to overcome the barriers that are beyond the capacity of any one individual company to address, with such efforts requiring the mobilisation of policy makers, miners, service companies, investors and researchers in order to achieve the scale, capital and influence to drive success.

Of survey respondents:

  • The preferred partnering approach for achieving breakthrough innovations is collaborating with selected partners (65%);
  • The majority believe the best way the government can support innovation is through regulation and collaboration (#1 and #2, respectively);
  • 85% believe broad industry standards for battery types are required.
  • 52% see miners as the biggest group driving investment in electrification followed by suppliers and investors (39% and 38%, respectively); and
  • 60% believe the industry should focus its health risk innovation on airborne particulates.