Study urges boards to put electrification on the agenda

A SURVEY by EY has outlined the cost, reputational and environmental benefits of the electrification of mining operations.
Study urges boards to put electrification on the agenda Study urges boards to put electrification on the agenda Study urges boards to put electrification on the agenda Study urges boards to put electrification on the agenda Study urges boards to put electrification on the agenda

Newmont Goldcorp's Borden mine in Canada is the world's first diesel-free hard rock mine

Staff reporter

The survey, commissioned by EY and conducted by the Sustainable Minerals Institute at The University of Queensland and The Norman B. Keevil Institute of Mining Engineering at The University of British Columbia, took in views from miners and mining original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

It found the electrification of mines was climbing the agenda of mining companies as a driver of cost reduction, energy efficiency and license-to-operate stewardship.

The analysis revealed that reaping the full benefits of an electricity powered mining future will require reskilling, reaching out across sectors and rethinking the fundamentals of mine design.

"The world is already ushering in a new energy system, where cleanly generated electricity will power almost every aspect of our lives," EY global mining and metals leader Paul Mitchell said.

"The mining sector is on the verge of an electrification revolution, driven by significant cost reduction potential, lowered carbon emissions and improved worker health benefits.

"This is critically important, given the World Health Organisation has declared that diesel particulates now belong in the same deadly category as asbestos, arsenic and mustard gas."

The four key themes that emerged from the survey were the improved economics and strengthened license to operate of electric mines, the need for collaboration between miners, OEMs and governments, the rethink of mine designs to allow for innovation, and the requirement for different skills and technology.

"It is important to start thinking about building agility into mine design to leverage the potential benefits in asset flexibility, lower ventilation requirements and the human footprint," Mitchell said.

"The future of electrification in mines requires a paradigm shift in thinking — from existing known and proven technologies to new emerging technologies.

"We must realise that the challenges of the sector can be solved faster by collaboration - and a robust strategy, underpinned by gaining the right capabilities and an agile approach, is critical."