Why the Global Mining Industry is Embracing Renewables
Recent decisions to power mines in such disparate environments as India, Africa, and Chile with renewable energy indicate that increased adoption may be in the industry’s near future.
Canadian firm IAMGOLD garnered attention by signing a $20 million,15-year power purchase agreement for a solar installation at its off-grid Essakane mine in Burkina Faso, Africa earlier this month. The company aims to use 15 percent renewable energy company-wide by 2020.
In addition, Germany’s Redavia Solar announced its solar expansion at Shanta Mining Company Ltd.’s New Luika gold mine. The 609 kilowatt (Kw) installation will yield 950 Kw hours (Kwh) annually.
Thanks to incentives and government support, wind power is doing well in India, including the mining sector. State-run Coal India Ltd. plans to install 600 Mw of solar nationwide, for example. Hindustan Zinc announced its deployment of an additional 115 MW of solar; on top of the 474 M of thermal power and 274 Mw of wind it already generates.
On the other side of the world, Chile is building green infrastructure that will take advantage of the Andes’ abundance of sun and Patagonia’s wind to power its copper mines. The installations will reduce the need to transport diesel fuel to these remote and logistically difficult locations. Chile plans to install another 1,000 Mw of solar by this summer, mostly in mining regions. A nearly 2,000-mile transmission line is also being constructed to connect mines to the national grid.
In all of these cases, renewable energy is addressing the concerns that mining companies and governments have regarding fuel prices, logistics, and emissions all at the same time. These projects also benefit local communities by creating jobs. In addition, many solar installations will be left behind for local use after mines have closed. Through “anchor-tenant solutions,” solar installations may even share power with distant communities while the mine is in operation.
These projects are particularly beneficial in energy-poor places like Africa. Rio Tinto’s Queensland, Australia bauxite mine is one example. The mine is equipped with an 18,000-panel PV farm, which shares electricity with a nearby township.
Given that 90 percent of energy demand will come from emerging markets by 2035, creative partnerships like these will be critical to meeting that demand.
Read the full article at Next Billion.