Underground Mining With Electrified Equipment Reaches Tipping Point
It's safer, cheaper and healthier, said EY in its study of underground miners who are planning to switch mine operations from diesel to electric power.
Last month EY published results of a survey showing the benefits of preferring electricity of diesel."Survey respondents [cited] workplace health benefits of replacing the diesel-powered engines of underground mining with electrified equipment," writes the study's authors.
"Fumes from diesel exhausts are dangerous for workers and removing them via gigantic ventilation systems is expensive. Switching from diesel to electric not only makes economic sense, but enables a greater level of onsite health and safety and helps mines strengthen their license to operate."
Electricity is also becoming more viable due to renewables making the energy less costly.
"While, in the past, clean energy was not cost-effective, costs have fallen fast putting renewables on track to outpace all other sources of energy and account for 60% of all capacity additions by 2040."
EY states to make electricity viable, special training will be required. It will also fit within a larger technical change at mines including automation, machine learning and the internet of things.
Earlier this month, B2Gold announced that its board approved "one of the largest" off-grid hybrid solar/heavy fuel oil power plants to power its mine in Mali.
B2Gold's solar plant will have 30 megawatts of solar generating capacity with a significant battery storage component. The company estimates the plant will reduce processing costs by 7%.