As part of the Longevity of Current Mines programme, energy usage in existing narrow reef underground gold and PGM mines was identified as a focus area, as it is a significant contributor to operational costs. The recent load shedding resulted from irregular electrical supply raised concerns for sustainable future supply, which necessitates the investigation into alternative energy sources. The purpose of this project is to identify cost-effective alternative and/or regenerative energy sources applicable to mining activities.
Research and development
The research team conducted literature reviews and interviews with professional leaders in the industry as well as suppliers of Energy sources to obtain information and data that will enable representative comparisons of each milestone.
The main milestones are:
- To report on trends and impacts of Eskom tariff hikes on mining unit costs.
- To use cases on alternative energy sources applicable to mining activities.
- To use cases on energy regenerative sources applicable to mining activities.
- To conduct a preliminary value proposition of alternative and/or regenerative energy sources applicable to the mining industry.
The outcome using the Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) analysis shows that solar power and wind are currently the lowest regenerative sources of electricity but an integrated energy approach is required to fully utilise a sustainable energy source. It is further proposed that conceptual research and study work is required to investigate the integration of alternative and regenerative energy sources in more detail, in order to minimise energy costs for the mining sector. The availability of commercial equipment should be investigated to determine its application towards the implementation of an integrated mining energy system.
This research was commissioned to Impact Advantage.
This project is still in progress. A detailed Sector Coupling Model is to be developed from the study findings; it will guide the understanding of the coupling of electricity, heat/cooling and transport. Specialised tools (PLEXOS) will be utilised to model optimal investment opportunities.