Tag Archives: Viper

Economical Energy and its VIPER energy storage tech win Studio X recognition

Economical Energy announces that it has joined the third cohort of the Shell-powered Studio X Accelerator Program, a first-of-its-kind open global innovation company seeking to accelerate innovation in energy and climate tech.

ATP Fund, a venture capital partner of Studio X, has also invested in Economical Energy.

Economical Energy is developing the VIPER (Vertically Integrated Potential Energy Reservoir) energy storage technology, to help make renewable energy cheap, clean and continuous. The VIPER technology stores renewable wind and solar power when it’s available so that it can be used later during energy inadequacy to keep the lights on. It has potential applications in mining, representing an opportunity for companies to reduce their emissions and expand their portfolios.

Economical Energy expects its VIPER technology to become substantially cheaper than batteries, while having a significantly smaller environmental impact than batteries and pumped hydro.

It is considered a Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) technology, as it is best suited for six to 12 hours of storage which is the optimal range for time shifting intermittent renewable energy. This differentiates it from the lithium-ion batteries installed on grids that typically only have two hours of energy storage.

It represents a reinvention of pumped hydro, using the same underlying physics, the force of gravity, but switching out the water used by pumped hydro with dirt, which is heavier and is not affected by drought or climate change. The VIPER also removes pumped hydro’s requirements for mountains and construction in ecologically diverse areas, by using deep holes in the ground like those provided by deep underground mines.

Max Gray, Director of the Studio X accelerator program, said: “The Studio X accelerator program is excited to have Economical Energy as part of the 2023 cohort. Their innovative solution to LDES will play a key role in meeting the future energy supply and demand equation, as well as adding stability to power grid infrastructure in times of energy instability. The next decades will need abundant LDES solutions and Economical Energy’s technology is poised to play a key role in that supply.”

Matthew Forrest, Managing Director of Economical Energy, said: “The level of technical due diligence from Studio X and ATP Fund was by far the most sophisticated we have encountered. Their understanding of the complexities of the underground environment were particularly relevant. I feel that their decision to invest is a strong vote of confidence in us and our VIPER technology.”

Mota-Engil and Mali-owned IMS to tackle Morila satellites and Super Pit

Mining contractor, Mota-Engil, and Mali-owned and operated contractor, Inter-Mining Services (IMS), are to carry out open-pit mining services at the Morila gold mine in Mali, following a contract award from Firefinch Ltd.

The two companies have entered a joint venture to carry out this contract, which will see them mine the satellite pits, Viper and N’tiola, as well as phase 1 mining of the Morila Super Pit.

The contract has an estimated value of some $360 million and includes site preparation and mining operations at the Viper and N’tiola satellite pits, and the Morila Super Pit. The scope of works also includes run of mine stockpile management at the Morila plant.

Mota-Engil have over 75 years of experience operating in Africa, and a demonstrated track record of operating at the scale required to pre-strip and mine the Morila Super Pit, Firefinch said. IMS, meanwhile, has extensive experience operating in the Malian mining sector.

“The combined expertise and capability offered by the joint venture allows for operating at scale, while combining strong local knowledge and content,” Firefinch said.

Work under the JV is scheduled to commence at the satellite pit of Viper and N’tiola in August 2021, with mining at the Morila Super Pit scheduled for the March quarter of 2022.

Firefinch’s Managing Director, Dr Michael Anderson, said: “The joint venture will bring together the capability to operate at scale, and a well-established locally owned and operated business that will maximise local content. It was great to have spent time at Morila and in Bamako this month, where we executed this important milestone. We have identified a solution that brings both local content and the technical capability required to undertake our open pit mining for future years.”

Firefinch has an 80% interest in the Morila gold mine, which has produced 7.5 Moz of gold since 2000. The ASX-listed company acquired the mine in November 2020 with the view to increase production at the 4.5 Mt/y mill from a current annual production profile of 40,000 oz/y of gold from tailings treatment, towards a target of 70,000-90,000 oz/y of gold through mining of small open pits, stocks and tailings from mid-2021. In 2022, Firefinch plans to increase production to 150,000-200,000 oz/y by re-commencing mining from the main Morila pit.