A new report, commissioned by the Weir Group, calculates mining’s share of global energy consumption and identifies ways the industry can aid the transition to net zero emissions needed to limit temperatures in line with the Paris Agreement.

Enduron High Pressure Grinding Roll is an example of a more eco-efficient comminution technology being adopted by many mine sites worldwide. Photo: Weir Group Plc

The Mining Energy Consumption 2021 report analyses mine energy data from over 40 published studies to give a comprehensive understanding of where energy is consumed in mining and minerals processing. It shows that the total amount of power used by the mining industry is equal to 3.5% of global energy use.

“The mining industry is central to economic development globally, with critical minerals enabling the low-carbon transition required in the rest of the economy. But the environment in which it will operate in future will be very different from the past, requiring comprehensive change and investment,” said Weir Group Chief Executive Jon Stanton. 

“In short: mining needs to become more sustainable and efficient if it is to provide essential resources the world needs for decarbonisation while reducing its own environmental impact. This report is an important contribution to that debate which we hope will spark thoughtful conversations around the world on the way forward.”

The report highlights that comminution is the single biggest user of energy at mine sites, typically accounting for 25% of mining’s final energy consumption. Small improvements in comminution technologies can lead to relatively large savings in both energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Of the remaining energy consumption by the mining industry, diesel in varied forms of mobile equipment accounts for 46%; electricity in mining (ventilation), 15%; and “other electricity,” 14%. 

Other significant opportunities identified for reducing mining’s energy consumption include optimisation, big data and artificial intelligence. In addition, if zero emissions energy sources are deployed for mining equipment – e.g., renewable energy, energy storage and alternative fuels – then the industry may well be able to achieve zero emissions, leaving a relatively small role for offsets and carbon credits to play.

Source: Weir Group

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