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Energy and Mines Awards: Over a Dozen Mines Celebrated for Leadership in Renewables

Energy and Mines Awards: Over a Dozen Mines Celebrated for Leadership in Renewables
December 12
14:14 2016

Mining companies from across the globe were recognized for their investments in renewable energy during the Energy and Mines Renewables in Mining Awards. The glittering gala took place in Toronto on November 21 as part of the 4th annual Energy and Mines World Congress — the essential annual gathering where the mining industry meets renewable energy developers to address key energy challenges.

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Over 150 senior mining and renewables experts attended the exciting awards evening at which awards were presented in 13 different categories, including project of the year, outstanding commitment to renewables, visionary of the year, plus awards specifically recognizing the use of solar, wind, and energy storage. The audience travelled from across the globe to attend the ceremony with nominated companies hailing from Canada, the US, Chile, Mexico, Australia, and South Africa.

The awards were based on Energy and Mines’ independent research that ranked mining companies on their use of renewable energy. The rankings revealed the current installed capacity to be at 943 MW comprising 352 MW of solar PV, 39 MW of solar thermal, and 551 MW of wind. The study also showed the installed capacity of renewables on repurposed mine lands to be over 1100 MW.

All the winners

All the winners

The winners were selected through a three-step process — the rankings, nominations and an international jury.

Pride in Risks Taken

The overwhelming response from the awarded mines was pride in the acknowledgement of work well done as well as encouragement to take up more renewable projects. “Awards like Energy and Mines’ showcase the outstanding work that our industry is doing in regards to renewables and climate change. Being noticed validates the direction that we are pursuing and encourages us to keep striving to do even better in the future,” said Russell Blades, Director of Energy and Climate Change, who picked up the award for Outstanding Commitment to Renewable Energy on behalf of Barrick Gold. In 2015, almost 18% of the company’s power was already sourced from renewables, with a clear goal to do even better in the future.

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Russell Blades picking up the award for Outstanding Commitment to Renewable Energy on behalf of Barrick Gold.

The recognized companies unanimously stressed the importance of renewables when it comes to reducing GHG emissions as well lowering energy expenses. “Cost is a major challenge in the mining industry. And one of the ways to address it is to develop new and more efficient formulas,” said Kuno Kafka, Senior Legal Counsel and Executive Director at Antofagasta Minerals.

Antofagasta Minerals, the mining company that topped the rankings table in terms of overall commitment to renewables, was awarded  the prize for large solar for its Conejo Solar project, which supplies energy to Los Pelambres copper and molybdenum mine in Chile’s Atacama Desert. “Getting this award for us as a company is a recognition of Antofagasta’s commitment to environment, local communities and future mining explorations. It is a celebration of the hard work we have done to seek new energy sources that would allow us to build a future with lower cost,” Kafka stated.

Many attendees praised the global line-up of nominees at the Energy and Mines awards. “I was amazed to see so many industry experts from all around the world that are developing new ideas that will help make renewable energy more accessible for everybody,” Kafka noted.

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Tsakani Mthombeni picking up the award for Renewables in Mining Visionary of the Year on behalf of the Gold FIelds’ CEO Nicholas Holland.

Gold Fields also pointed to a diverse representation of mining companies. “It is great to see how long and how much other companies have been working to include renewables in their energy mixes. There are some excellent peers that we are watching and are looking to learn from. It was a very good event that provided a global picture of what is going on,” described Tsakani Mthombeni, Group Head of Energy & Carbon at Gold Fields, who picked up the award for Renewables in Mining Visionary of the Year on behalf of the company’s CEO Nicholas Holland.

Johannesburg-based Gold Fields is currently working on its South Deep 40 MW solar project, said Mthombeni, explaining that  the Energy and Mines award celebrates Gold Fields CEO’s vision for the company to become a global leader in sustainable gold mining. “Holland has been pushing us to look at new opportunities and make sure we can have at least 20% of renewables in all upcoming mining projects.”

The Carbon War Room, which presented the award to Gold Fields, worked with the company to conduct a global energy assessment. During that process, South Deep was identified as a mine with energy risks and great renewables potential. “We engaged with Gold Fields to conduct an energy optimization study to look at power needs of the mine and to run several scenarios to create a solution,” commented Ned Harvey, Managing Director at the Carbon War Room.

Renewables — a ‘real option’ for mines

Grupo Mexico, which described renewables as a “real option” for mines, was presented with the award for its 74 MW El Retiro wind farm. “Alternative power makes sense from both sustainable and economic perspectives. It is our obligation to make mining more sustainable,” stated award recipient Ignacio Castro Foulkes, Sub Director of Business Development at Grupo Mexico.

Foulkes added that the awards gala and the summit brought together two different worlds — renewable energy developers and mining experts. “Sometimes it might seem that their objectives are in opposition to each other, but they are actually more in line than we think. However, there is a lack of education from both sides — the renewable people need to understand how mining operations work and the mining people need to evolve and adapt to new trends.”

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Another interesting project that received high praise was Teck Resources’ former Sullivan Mine, which has been transformed into a 1 MW solar facility that powers approximately 200 homes in Kimberley, BC. Teck invested $2 million into what is now known as the SunMine solar project. Prior to its closure in 2001, the mine used to be a major producer of zinc, lead and silver. “The Sullivan mine is a big part of Teck’s history. It was discovered almost 400 years ago and to see it live forward with new technologies and new opportunities for the people of Kimberley is a great honour,” reported Paul Kolisnyk, Director of Technical Marketing at Teck Resources.

The buzzing awards night was a real testimony to the commitment miners are making to renewables, added Kolisnyk, describing the who’s who” of mining industry present at the gala. “To have this many prestigious, global companies in attendance is a testimony to the commitment the industry is making. Mines don’t last forever and we have to think about 30 or 50 years forwards. It is these type of innovations that give us a leg-up going forward.”

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“The mining world is carefully watching those that have already implemented renewables,” said Tom O’Neill, Energy Specialist at Canada Clean Fuels, who presented the Best Use of Renewables for Mine Transportation award to Kirkland Lake Gold. As mines develop, they get bigger and deeper, which increases energy costs. “Awards like these are important in order to celebrate the mining companies that have taken the first steps. It shows that some mines are already committed and are interested in doing the right thing for the environment and for their employees,” asserted O’Neill.

Harvey from the Carbon War Room added that aside from benefitting the environment, there is also a real business case for alternative power, “Renewables integration into mines’ energy mixes is good economically. It also offers energy security, community shared value and can help mines figure out end of life scenarios.”

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Anna Golubova

Anna Golubova

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