An Approach to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Mining Projects

Authored by: Sarma S. Kanchibotla , Tapiwa Chenje

Sustainability in the Mineral and Energy Sectors

Print publication date:  September  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781498733021
eBook ISBN: 9781315369853
Adobe ISBN:


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As more nations strive to become part of the developed world, the demand for commodities continues to increase rapidly. However, the high-grade and easy-to-mine deposits are mostly on the decline and future mineral deposits are likely to be deeper with higher stripping ratios, lower grade and in more remote locations with little infrastructure and skilled labour pools. The reduction in feed grades will increase the comminution energy demand per unit of metal produced. In addition to decreasing grades, the amount of waste and haul distances will increase as the deposits get deeper thus significantly increasing the haulage energy requirement. Deeper pits also increase the risks of slope stability and wall failure and if not managed in a timely manner slope failures not only pose risk to regular production but also significantly increase the energy signature of the operations by increasing unplanned haulage. Producing commodities from such deep and low-grade deposits is likely to substantially increase the energy (fuel, electricity and embodied) requirements per unit of mineral/metal produced as well as the carbon footprint of the operations. Embodied energy is the quantity of energy necessary for the fabrication of material or consumable used in the process. In addition to higher energy requirements and operating expenses (OPEX), mining deeper and lower grade deposits also require higher capital expenditure (CAPEX), which has become a significant impediment to investment.

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