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Renewable Energy for the mining sector – is this the future?
The mining sector is challenged once again by ongoing loadshedding in South Africa. The cost on the economy goes without saying. While many businesses wait for alternative energy sources to join the grid, what solutions are there for the sector?
Renewable energy is already making an impact on the mining industry. Mining concerns are turning to alternative energy sources in order to not only continue work, but also to reduce harmful emissions and to take a step towards being more environment friendly.
It also makes economic sense resulting in cheaper mining operations with more energy efficiency. There are more jobs for engineers. Green house gas emissions are lower and it supports sustainable development.
Some mines have already turned to solar energy. The reasons are obvious: costs are lower, it has less impact on the environment, and of course, it’s a viable solution to stand up against loadshedding. Wind energy has a similar impact – and the electricity it generates can power the grid.
The plus side to all this is that incorporating renewable energy has dropped in cost over the years, making it a far more accessible and viable option for mine operators. The switch from fossil fuels to alternative sources is on the rise – a trend seen strongly in the Americas – and may have some impact on climate change.
According to a report published by Fitch Solutions Macro Research, the transition to renewable power in the mining industry has already begun. The report cites the affordability of renewable solutions, and a more reliably energy supply, the main reasons behind this trend. The report cites environmental, social and governance reasons as the second highest reason for the switch.
Nine mining companies globally have already installed renewable energy solutions. While these are mainly based in the Americas, Argentina and South Africa are set to be next in line to adopt new and improved renewable energy methods.
With the South African energy grid plagued by loadshedding and other issues, it stands to reason that one of the country’s biggest industries that help keep the economy afloat, would make the change to renewable energy sources. Uninterrupted energy flow, cost effectiveness and reduced environmental impact are all favourable reasons for making the switch. And, now that renewable options have become more affordable, we could see a possible strengthening of production.