Editorial Feature

Enabling Net-Zero Mining in Open-Pit and Underground Mines

Transitioning to net-zero carbon emissions is a crucial aim in the 21st century. This article will explore how mining companies can achieve net-zero operations in open pit and underground mine operations, with an overview of the partnership between Perenti and ABB.

net-zero, mining

Image Credit: d.ee_angelo/Shutterstock.com

Net-Zero: A Pressing Industrial Challenge

Around 80% of global energy needs are currently met by fossil fuels, with the remaining demand satisfied by renewable sources such as solar, wind, and nuclear power. However, the current energy mix is unsustainable, and the challenges of climate change demand a rapid transition to net-zero.

Decarbonization will require significant investment in new processes and technologies over the coming decades to meet internationally agreed net-zero targets by 2050. Each asset will require different transformation strategies to achieve this key aim, with different factors considered by engineers and scientists.

Electrification is a critical strategy in the transition to a zero-carbon economy. Various technologies have been developed, with batteries, fuel cells, and supercapacitors key solutions explored in recent decades. To be considered viable options, they must be able to provide the same energy density as conventional fossil fuel-based technologies.

The Role of Stakeholders in the Mining Industry’s Transition

Aside from technological solutions, navigating the road to net-zero will require the cooperation of multiple stakeholders. Significant investment will be needed to decarbonize key industrial sectors such as mining and mineral extraction.

Investors will need to understand decarbonization and electrification options and pathways, while governments must introduce new regulations.

Renewable energy suppliers, power distributors, and other actors within the renewables industry will become increasingly invested in the mining sector.

The mining industry is a global powerhouse that utilizes vast amounts of energy reserves annually. Overcoming the challenges of navigating net-zero in the mining sector will require a synergistic approach, with innovative partnerships between companies and organizations.

Electrification: Lighting the Spark of Mining Innovation

Mining companies increasingly recognize the benefits of electrification for open-pit and underground mining operations. Electrification and associated technologies bring environmental and economic advantages to companies.

Energy cost has steadily increased over the past few decades as the era of cheap fossil fuels is ending. Natural resources such as oil, gas, and coal are highly vulnerable to market fluctuations and geopolitical influences. Cheap, renewable energy is largely independent of these negative influences.

Alongside the cost pressures introduced by rising global energy prices, there is a crucial issue with deep underground mining. As deeper resources are exploited, mines require more power, increasing these operations' economic demands. Fully electrifying mine equipment and infrastructure provide a route toward cost-effective mining in the future.

Replacing equipment that relies on diesel for electricity-powered options (particularly ones that use renewable sources) is the main route forward for mining companies to reduce costs and emissions. Aside from economic and environmental benefits, removing harmful diesel emissions will positively impact worker health.

Electrified mines require less human intervention due to increasing automation and innovative technologies' applications. Drones, Internet of Things-enabled technologies, sensors, centralized data hubs, and autonomous vehicles are all finding increasing application in the modern electrified mine.

Perenti and ABB: A New Collaboration Driving the Decarbonization of Mines

Collaboration between different stakeholders and companies will be a main driving force in the decarbonization and electrification of the mining sector in the coming decades.

Perenti and ABB are combining their expertise to explore decarbonization solutions in the mining industry.

The companies will address electrification options in critical areas such as power distribution, energy efficiency, and mine hauling operations in deep underground and open-pit operations.

Perenti’s extensive experience in digital solutions and mining operations will complement ABB’s innovative technologies, such as the ABB Ability eMine portfolio. This suite of technologies includes ABB Ability eMine FastCharge, a rapid charging solution for electric plant equipment, such as haul trucks, without human intervention.

Electrification of multiple mining operations, from pilot-stage projects to brownfield and greenfield sites, will be improved by this complementary collaboration between the two companies.

Experts from both companies will collaborate on strategies and recommendations to help achieve a net-zero mining future.

Both companies are committed to tackling climate change in the mining sector and addressing multiple stakeholders' economic, social, and environmental concerns. They will leverage their global footprint, diverse teams, and extensive domain expertise to provide a roadmap toward full decarbonization.

The Future of Net-Zero in the Mining Industry

Decarbonizing the mining sector is a monumental challenge. To meet its internationally agreed targets will demand a synergistic approach that leverages innovative and emerging technologies and processes. Navigating net-zero is an urgent and pressing research and engineering direction in the industry.

Through collaborative approaches such as ABB and Perenti’s new partnership, the mining sector will benefit from the economic, environmental, social, and safety improvements offered by full decarbonization, electrification, and associated technologies. While challenging, the era of sustainable mining is becoming steadily more realized in the 21st century.

Read more: How Could the Mining Industry Decarbonize by 2030?

References and Further Reading

Rani, A (2022) Perenti and ABB collaborate to explore mining decarbonisation solutions [online] mining-technology.com. Available at: https://www.mining-technology.com/news/perenti-abb-decarbonisation/

Mining Technology (2021) Navigating net zero [online] mining-technology.com. Available at: https://www.mining-technology.com/sponsored/navigating-net-zero/

Mitchell, P (2019) Will electrification spark the next wave of mining innovation? [online] ey.com. Available at: https://www.ey.com/en_gl/mining-metals/will-electrification-spark-the-next-wave-of-mining-innovation

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Reginald Davey

Written by

Reginald Davey

Reg Davey is a freelance copywriter and editor based in Nottingham in the United Kingdom. Writing for AZoNetwork represents the coming together of various interests and fields he has been interested and involved in over the years, including Microbiology, Biomedical Sciences, and Environmental Science.

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