Mining companies are digging into renewable energy as a way to reduce costs and offset the impact of volatile conventional fuel prices as the world shifts to a low-carbon economy.
Industry executives gathered last week at the Energy and Mines World Congress in Toronto focused on how innovation in energy – which can comprise as much as one-quarter of operating expenses in remote locations – can make mines more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable. “I think we will be surprised at the speed at which mining companies will start to adopt these things,” said Adriaan Davidse, mining innovation leader at Deloitte.
Amid rapid improvements in renewable technologies, wind and solar prices have fallen dramatically in recent years and are expected to keep dropping. In many parts of the world —especially in remote locations – the alternative energy solutions are becoming cheaper than conventional sources.
Meanwhile, a dearth of new mine opportunities is driving companies into more far-flung locations that are not connected to the electricity grid — resulting in dependency on diesel — an unreliable, costly and carbon-intensive source of energy.
Some miners also see renewables as a way to maximize their social licence to operate by selling the benefits of renewables to surrounding communities: the switch can help end community-reliance on diesel generators for decades after the mine’s life ends.
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