Achieving mining resilience with long-term energy solutions

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By Johan Helberg, Head of Mining at Aggreko, Africa, Middle East, and Asia

According to the Boston Consulting Group, mining organisations planning for uncertainty and complexity are those that tend to find profit within them. The research firm underscored the importance of investing in the right energy and infrastructure solutions to ensure growth is both profitable and sustainable, allowing for mines to reimagine their approaches and pivot at speed. It is an industry constantly in flux with market trends and demands shifting at such speed that it is almost impossible to predict what lies a year in the future, much less plan for five to ten years ahead. Regulations, green mining, technology, environmental pressures and shifting market requirements mean mines are under constant pressure to adapt, evolve and reimagine.

Sustainable success for mining companies within the Africa, Middle East, and Asia (AMEA) region rests on two fundamental foundations – resilience and energy. Mining organisations must reinvent their architecture and their practices from the ground up, shifting reliance away from the portfolio of yesterday towards new practices and approaches that allow them to become as dynamic and competitive as the landscape itself. However, as the PwC Mining 2023: The Era of Reinvention study pointed out, the route to renewable, sustainable and low-emission energy will not be straightforward which means planning has to start now to embed the resilience and agility needed for tomorrow.

A sustainable energy architecture allows companies to reduce their reliance on grid-based power so they can move steadily towards their sustainability goals within a well-defined framework. The mining sector is well aware of the pressure it is under to become renewable, clean and green, and most mines have put significant renewable and alternative energy solutions in place. However, many are still battling to find that perfect balance of power and location.

Of course, one of the first things to consider for most companies in AMEA is to remove reliance on the grid. In many countries, this has become, and remains, unreliable and fractious. It is also expensive and adds little value to the green bottom line at a time when the mining sector contributes up to 7% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Mines are looking for solutions that will allow them to align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as these are both a priority and a challenge. Committing to alternative power and achieving net zero is complicated within the chaos of rising costs Deloitte found that the cost of energy is around 30% of the total cash operating costs for the sector), grid instability and increasing power demands.

Mines need effective energy management within superb mine design to cut the costs, emissions and carbon footprints.

This is where investment into a sustainable and accessible long-term energy foundation can make all the difference. The energy and cost conversation are the same – how can both be cut to save money and embed sustainability? The answer lies in developing an energy solution that is aligned with ESG guidelines, particularly your own organisation’s ESG strategy; has visibility into available fuel sources and solutions so you have a realistic picture of your energy expectations and required investments; and a deep understanding of your power requirements across operations and locations.

When you have these needs clearly defined, you can develop an approach that allows you to tick your boxes strategically. And to take advantage of the solutions currently being developed by an evolving energy provision market. Innovation within energy frameworks and solutions is unprecedented right now which makes it easy for mines to find the right energy mix that is structured around their business.

Your options are unlimited. For example, if your organisation wants a quick power solution, you can invest in bridging power solutions that are designed to help you remain stable and capable within your energy portfolio. Or, if you want to move your legacy power framework towards one that’s more energy efficient, you can switch to a lower emission thermal fuel or hybridise your energy mix with renewable energy solutions that provide you with balance and control over both the long and the short term.

By adapting the ways in which your mines are powered through flexible solutions designed to reduce costs and emissions, you can enjoy resilience, reliability, and availability on a scale you couldn’t achieve with traditional solutions. Looking ahead, mines need expert energy partners capable of helping them unpack their energy portfolio and their strategic goals so they can build agile and adaptable energy solutions that mitigates the risks, save costs, and lower emissions while delivering reliable energy over the long term.

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