Mines are among the economy’s heaviest users of energy, for earth-removal, rock-crushing, tailings disposal and delivering ore. Yet if policies emerging from the Paris World Climate Summit force mines to adopt new practices and clean energy sources, their owners could be in for a happy surprise, energy blogger Thomas Hillig suggest.
Energy constitutes between 20% and 30% of a mine’s operating costs. Most, the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) found in a survey, are: “unprepared for the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Only two of 11 mining companies analyzed supported regulations to limit carbon emissions, many others appearing to feel threatened by potential new charges, especially on coal. Others are weathering low prices for the commodities they produce.
However a few large companies, including global giants Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, and Goldfields, are integrating renewable energy into their operations, reports Hilling, whose consulting company, THEnergy, specializes in renewables and mining.
“Mining companies are in the process of understanding that renewable energy can improve their competitive situation,” Hilling writes. “If significant carbon reduction measures are adopted [in Paris], we will see many solar and wind plants at mines in the very near future.”