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Aggreko to energise mine power space with investment proposition

Mobile power provider Aggreko says it is making the transition from being a pure power provider to a long-term mining project investor that is helping miners navigate the energy transition.

Aggreko has built an almost 60-year-long reputation for powering many sectors around the globe. It has also supplied power and underground cooling to the mining sector for more than 35 years and has evolved into life-of-mine contracts and renewables.

In its latest report – which details its future energy transition – Aggreko cites mining as a major growth sector. Aggreko Australia Pacific Managing Director, George Whyte, stated that Aggreko’s global team’s unique offering is with build-own-operate investments across all continents.

As well as continuing to invest upward of £250 million ($347 million) annually in technology and innovation, the company says it is ready to further boost its investments in the natural resources industry.

Whyte said: “Investor partnerships can support the rapid changes in technology and emissions compliance that our mining customers are facing. Investing millions of dollars in capital for a mine’s power plant is a risk for any company, and, as a partner, Aggreko takes on this risk instead of the mining company. It is a smart way for miners to do business in the post-COVID and renewables era.”

Aggreko’s Global Head of Mining, Rod Saffy, said miners struggling to get funding for capital expenditure projects were looking to outsource, and there was a trend toward creating partnerships with providers.

“Partnerships provide more value beyond de-risking project finances,” Saffy said. “There are technology and emissions risks, so by partnering with us, for example, we aren’t just supplying equipment and labour, we share in decision making and project milestones, we invest and update technology on-site and navigate social and environmental impacts together.”
Saffy said companies looking to build power stations for the first time particularly benefited from supportive partnerships with Aggreko.

“Power stations are our core business, and they have become much more complex on mine sites than they have been in the past,” he said. “It is challenging to get funding to build power stations, and miners are needing support to integrate renewables into their plans immediately or in the future, or needing solutions designed from scratch.

“Partnering with us is a sustainable and beneficial business solution. Miners are wanting hybrid power stations that might utilise a mix of energy sources such as diesel, gas, solar or battery, for example. They also want that power to be scaled up or down and upgraded as their needs change and new technology comes online.”

Saffy said mines throughout the world were becoming less dependent on mass-scale thermal plants to deliver baseload power through national grids.

“With the cost of renewable power generation falling, there is also growth in localised microgrids, which means less dependence or complete independence from the grid,” he said. “Miners in Australia, Africa and South America, where there is less infrastructure in remote locations, are finding it particularly helpful to partner with us from the start of a major project.”

One such example is the Gold Fields Salares Norte Mine in northern Chile where Aggreko has become a major investor, and partner for the mining project for at least 10 years. The mine is located 190 km from the nearest town and is 4,500 m above sea level, and Aggreko is creating an off-grid hybrid power solution, comprising of diesel and solar for the harsh environmental conditions. Aggreko estimates the mine will experience $7.4 million in cost energy savings across the 10 years.

Saffy said the benefits for Aggreko in partnering and investing with miners from the beginning of their project to the end of the life of mine was beneficial for both parties.

“As a partner, Aggreko de-risks the threat of future innovation and technology for miners,” he said. “Our build, own, operate and maintain model frees up working capital without increasing the debt ratio for mining projects. Modular equipment also gives miners the ability to leverage innovation at low risk and not be concerned about having the latest equipment.

“We benefit too, by showcasing our expertise and innovations throughout a project’s lifecycle and support mining companies to reduce emissions and increase their operational efficiencies.”

Late last year, Aggreko committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

Teck and AES shake on renewable power agreement for Carmen de Andacollo copper mine

Teck Resources and The AES Corp’s Chile affiliates, Compañía Minera Teck Carmen de Andacollo SA (CdA) and AES Gener SA, have entered into a long-term power purchase agreement to provide 100% renewable power for Teck’s Carmen de Andacollo Operation in Chile.

Under the agreement, CdA will source 72 MW (550 GWh/y) from AES Gener’s growing renewable portfolio of wind, solar and hydroelectric energy.

The transition to renewable power will replace previous fossil fuel power sources and eliminate around 200,000 t/y of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent to removing over 40,000 passenger vehicles from the road, Teck says.

Don Lindsay, President and CEO of Teck, said: “Teck is tackling the global challenge of climate change by reducing the carbon footprint of our operations and working towards our goal of becoming carbon neutral. This agreement takes Teck a step closer to achieving our sustainability goals, while also ensuring a reliable, long-term clean power supply for CdA at a reduced cost to Teck.”

Andrés Gluski, AES Corporation President and Chief Executive Officer, said the company was honoured to continue working with Teck to help the miner progress towards its goal of carbon neutrality.

“By providing Teck with innovative renewable energy solutions, AES Gener is helping build Chile’s sustainable and reliable grid of the future,” Gluski said.

As part of its updated Sustainability Strategy, Teck has set the goal of being a carbon-neutral operator by 2050. In support of that long-term objective, Teck has established milestone goals including sourcing 100% of all power needs in Chile from renewable power by 2030 and reducing the carbon intensity of operations by 33% by 2030. Teck previously announced an agreement with AES Gener to supply renewable power for the Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 (QB2) project currently under construction. Once effective, more than 50% of QB2’s total operating power needs will be from renewable sources.

The Carmen de Andacollo renewable power arrangement is in effect as of September 1, 2020, and will run through to the end of 2031.

Alejandro Vásquez, Vice President, South America, Teck, said: “Switching to clean, renewable power for Carmen de Andacollo is another step forward in our ongoing commitment to responsible resource development across our operations and activities.”

Carmen de Andacollo is an open-pit copper mine located in the Coquimbo Region of central Chile, around 350 km north of Santiago. Teck owns a 90% interest in the mine, with Empresa Nacional de Minería holding the remaining 10%. It produced 54,000 t of copper in 2019.

EDL brings 56 MW hybrid renewable energy project online at Gold Fields’ Agnew mine

Global energy producer EDL says it has successfully completed the 56 MW Agnew Hybrid Renewable project for Gold Fields’ Agnew gold mine in Western Australia.

All five wind turbines are now up and running and successfully integrated into Australia’s largest hybrid renewable microgrid, and the first in the country to power a mine with wind-generated electricity, it said.

In favourable weather conditions, the project has delivered up to 70% of Agnew’s power requirements with renewable energy, according to the company. This is significant as the Agnew mine consists of two underground complexes and one 1.3 Mt/y processing plant consisting of a three-stage crushing circuit, two-stage milling circuit, gravity circuit and carbon-in-pulp circuit.

Upon announcing the project in June 2019, Gold Fields and EDL said the A$112 million ($78 million) investment would help create a “world-leading energy microgrid combining wind, solar, gas and battery storage”.

The project comprises four key components controlled by an advanced microgrid system. This includes five 110 m wind turbines, each with a rotor diameter of 140 m, delivering 18 MW; a 10,710-panel solar farm generating 4 MW; a 13 MW/4 MWh battery system; and an off-grid 21 MW gas/diesel engine power plant.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided A$13.5 million ($8.7 million) in funding to the project as part of its Advancing Renewables Program.

EDL Chief Executive Officer, James Harman, said: “We applaud Gold Fields for their vision in embarking on this journey with us, and their role in leading the Australian mining industry’s transition to clean, reliable renewable energy.

“We also acknowledge the incredible achievement of the EDL project delivery team and our contractors. We faced transport challenges during the bushfires and impacts on personnel from COVID-19 restrictions, as well as geographical, logistics and technical challenges to safely construct this innovative energy facility in the remote WA Goldfields region.”

Gold Fields Executive Vice President Australasia, Stuart Mathews, said the completion of the project was an important milestone for Gold Fields, EDL and the broader mining industry.

“We are proud to be able to showcase this project with EDL as an outstanding example of the capacity of the hybrid renewable energy model to meet the dynamic power requirements of remote mining operations.

“For our people and our stakeholders, this is a very clear demonstration of our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint whilst strengthening our security of supply.

“Having built our internal technical capability and developed strong relationships with our business partners, we are well placed to continue to implement renewables solutions elsewhere in our business.”

BHP builds its ‘green’ copper credentials at Escondida, Spence

BHP says new renewable energy contracts it has recently signed in Chile will reduce energy prices for its Escondida and Spence copper mines by around 20% and help displace up to 3 Mt/y of CO2 emissions from these operations.

These agreements not only benefit BHP’s business but generate strong environmental and social value, according to Daniel Malchuk, President Operations for BHP’s Minerals Americas business.

BHP operates and own 57.5% of the Escondida mine, a leading producer of copper concentrate and cathodes from a copper porphyry deposit, in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. Spence, which is 100% owned by BHP, is also in northern Chile.

He said: “Population growth and higher living standards combined with greater electrification are expected to push up demand for copper. This means that copper in products such as electric cars and renewable energy infrastructure, which are vital to the world’s sustainable growth, must be produced to the highest environmental aspirations.”

The new energy contracts, along with BHP’s investment in desalinated water in Chile, demonstrate social value in action and help drive the wider agenda for sustainable green copper, according to Malchuk.

Social value is one strategic pillar the company embeds in all its decision-making and informs the way in which it provides resources and generates long-term, sustainable value. This was the subject of BHP Chief External Affairs Officer, Geoff Healy’s speech in London earlier this month.

Malchuk said the company has negotiated four new power contracts that will meet its energy requirements at Escondida and Spence from 100% renewable energy sources by the mid-2020s.

“When fully operational, these renewable supply arrangements will eliminate virtually all of Escondida and Spence Scope 2 emissions (emissions from purchased energy), effectively displacing up to 3 Mt of CO2 annually compared to the fossil fuel contracts they replace,” he said. “This is the equivalent to annual emissions from about 700,000 combustion engine cars and accounts for around 70% of BHP’s Minerals Americas total greenhouse gas emissions.”

These actions also support Chile’s wider “Energia 2025” power policy target for 20% of all Chilean energy to come from renewable sources by 2025.

Following a competitive tender process, Escondida and Spence agreed separate 15-year contracts for 3 TWh/y and 10-year contracts for 3 TWh/year with ENEL Generación Chile and Colbún respectively. The ENEL contracts will begin in August 2021 and the Colbún contracts in January 2022, BHP said, with power supplied from solar, wind and hydro sources.

Malchuk said: “These contracts are practical examples of our commitment to social value that are linked to a sound business case. We estimate the agreements will reduce energy prices at our Escondida and Spence copper mine operations by around 20%, provide our operations flexibility and security of supply, and strengthen our ability to deliver sustainable copper across our supply chain.”

On top of this, the company has confirmed that its Spence operations will begin using desalinated water as the main source of supply from mid-2020 upon completion of a 1,000 l/s capacity desalination plant. This was part of a plan the company outlined in 2017 to grow the Spence operation.

This is on top of the more than $4 billion, 2,500-l/s desalination plant the company built at Escondida.

Malchuk said: “Water is a precious commodity that is critical to our operations in Chile and to the communities where we operate in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest regions in the world. We recognise our operations have an impact on the environment given the immense amount of water they consume.”

He added: “Our Water Stewardship position statement, launched last month, outlines our vision for a water secure world by 2030. It sets out our actions to improve water management within our operations and contribute to more effective water governance beyond the mine gate.

“We strongly support the UN Sustainable Development Goals on access to clean and affordable water. That’s why we will set public targets and engage industry, communities and governments to improve governance, transparency and collaboration in water management.”

OZ Minerals to trial hybrid energy solution at Carapateena as part of renewables project

OZ Minerals says it has launched the Energy and Mining Collaboration (EMC) in an initial collaboration with six other organisations to investigate renewable energy and demand management related activities on a mine site.

The six other organisations are Adelaide University, CSIRO, the Department of Energy and Mining, the Rocky Mountain Institute, SunSHIFT and the Tonsley Innovation Precinct.

The first project as part of this program will be a trial installation of a circa-250 kW hybrid energy solution facility including solar, wind and a battery in the first half of 2020, located at OZ Minerals’ Carrapateena mine site in an area demarcated for piloting and prototyping. Carrapateena, in South Australia, is on track for first concentrate production in the December quarter, after which the project will ramp up to full production over the following 18 months. Carapateena is expected to produce an average of 65,000 t/y of copper and 67,000 oz/y of gold over a 20-year mine life.

The trial installation will have approximately 250 kW hybrid energy solution consisting of solar, wind, battery storage, connected to existing diesel generators, and have a Smart Grid controller for data access and tracking.

The EMC brings these organisations together into a collaboration platform with a view to developing and identifying renewable energy opportunities for an international showcase that optimises electrical and fuel demand and the integration of renewable energy systems, OZ said.

“This will be done via the creation of true partnerships around the testing of energy and technology hypotheses to unlock transformational value in mining,” the company added.

“Over the next six months, the parties, as the founding collaborators, are committed to formalising the partnerships from this collaboration, inviting in other first partnership collaborators and creating a broad and global membership of all those who would like to participate.”

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.