More and more mining companies globally are looking closely at options to electrify their mines, guided by the potential to curb the costs, boost their license to operate, and contribute to a more sustainable sector.
Fremont, CA: A survey was conducted between the leaders of mining companies and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who run mines in all continents other than Antarctica, to unveil the most significant opportunities provided by electrification, and highlight wherever there is a change needed to fulfill its potential.
License to Operate and Improve Economics
A mining company’s one-third of the total cost is represented by the cost of energy, projecting it to be a keenly managed component of operations. In the past 30 years, the energy cost pressures have been increasing steadily, as the average grades have gone nearly half, and the overburden has multiplied. Extending to a greater depth mine, are the increasing demand for power. Meanwhile, the calls to reduce mining’s carbon emissions are growing louder. Interchanging diesel for electricity is a way forward that provides energy from renewable sources. In the past, clean energy lacked cost-effectiveness, costs dropped rapidly, by putting the renewables on track to outpace other sources of energy, which now accounts for almost 60 percent of all capacity additions by 2040.
Electrification Needs Different Skills
The electrified mines need less maintenance and no human intervention. The usage of automation and the internet of things (IoT) are more likely to rise as drones, remote-controlled operational systems, and autonomous vehicles will get rolled out throughout the mining operations. Digital literacy skills and data will be on high demand in all phases of the value chain, and it shall revamp the mining workplace in the upcoming years.
Better Electrification Solutions with Collaboration
A profitable expansion of electrification in mining will soon demand ingenious solutions to incorporate new technologies throughout the sector. These cannot be developed by isolation; it has to be carried out collaboratively but within the industry, and potentially in a non-competitive way.
Data collaboration is a critical element of the mine electrification. Despite the benefits of data sharing, which are widely publicized, concerns like competitive advantage, loss of intellectual property, or perceived loss of data have formulated a protectionist attitude toward data from mining organizations, suppliers, and OEMs.
Understanding the full potential of electrification will lead to reconsiderations on how mines are designed. Miners have to remain competitive in terms of productivity, reduced operational risks, and better mineral restoration rates.
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