Future Trend for Contribution of Solar Energy to the Mining Industry and Water Desalination

Additonal authors: . Book title: Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019. Chapter: . Chapter title:

Proceedings, Vol. Proceedings of the 58th Conference of Metallurgists Hosting Copper 2019, 2019

Levran, Alexander

The main thrust of this presentation is to illustrate the growing contribution of solar energy to the mining industry by replacing existing mechanical and pneumatic tools and equipment with more effective and efficient electrical tools due to the increased efficiency and lower cost of solar energy generation. LCOE (levelized cost of energy/electricity) for solar energy is becoming highly competitive with other conventional sources of energy. The distributed architecture of solar power plants allows the supply of energy to highly remote and abandoned geographies. We will focus on the trend for this contribution to the mining industry over the next three years. Water desalination and delivery to the mining area will be topic of discussion regarding the contribution of solar systems in Latin America (LATAM) and other geographies. INTRODUCTION Increasing price pressure on the mining industry has generated a strong interest for mining companies to investigate energy costs and consumption. Currently, energy costs in mining economics contribute15% to 25% of the total commodity cost. In the past, most mines were operated by diesel gensets. Very high logistics costs for diesel supply, high and fluctuating diesel prices and theft led to very high energy prices. To overcome this problem, the mining industry has turned to solar energy, employing two main solutions: (i) adding a small scale (single level MWp energy supply) solar to an existing diesel system to create a hybrid solution operating as a microgrid environment; and (ii) replacing the existing diesel system with a large scale grid connected photovoltaic system financed by utilities or private IPP owners that signed a long-term power purchase agreement (“PPA”). In both applications, the near-term trend is to add storage and weather controls to optimize the electrical performance of the system. Use of concentrated solar solution (CSP) in the past was employed in a few remote sites to provide electrical energy to the mines. Currently this technology is not competitive with the photovoltaic (PV) systems. In some installations we have seen usage of a small hybrid system that is designed as relocatable, containerized and delivers scalable electrical power. In addition to the evolution of electrical energy sources, we see the trend of reduction of energy consumption in the mines by optimizing energy efficiency and generating load shifting solutions. Many studies of electrical energy in the mining industry support the growth of this trend in the mining industry.
Keywords: Copper 2019, COM2019