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Developing Energy Efficiency in the Mining Industry

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Jane Marsh's picture
Editor Environment.co

Jane Marsh is the Editor-in-Chief of Environment.co. She covers topics related to climate policy, sustainability, renewable energy and more.

  • Member since 2020
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  • Jul 7, 2021 3:25 pm GMT
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America relied on mining for centuries, accessing subsurface resources and employment. As the global population expanded, society recognized a limitation between resource demands and availability. Environmental engineers and scientists developed sustainable methods of decreasing the industry’s adverse ecological effects while maintaining employment rates.

Improving the mining industry’s energy efficiency supports government regulations and climate change prevention efforts. President Biden developed the Build Back Better plan, expanding clean energy production and technological development. He allocated two trillion dollars to the industry, helping companies transition from fossil fuels to renewable electricity.

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Mining companies can utilize a portion of the funding to increase their energy efficiency. Adopting more sustainable practices will additionally improve business and customer loyalty. Consumers value purpose-driven brands and support eco-friendly companies.

Mining and Climate Change

The mining industry is associated with environmental degradation, resulting from various non-sustainable practices. Mining processes alter localized ecosystems, indigenous lands and produce adverse human health effects. Additionally, the industry releases harmful pollution into wetlands and streams and increases noise pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and debris.

Mining companies can reduce their contribution to climate change by adopting energy-efficient practices and renewable power sources. When they increase their sustainability measures, they improve overall efficiency, lowering utility costs and waste production. Fortunately, researchers developed a way to integrate low-emission practices into the industry.

Renewable Energy

Mining is an energy-intensive procedure, especially when extracting and refining elements. Renewable power sources provide a sustainable and consistent flow of electricity, fueling equipment and processing facilities.

Fossil fuels, or dirty energy, produce 80% of the global electricity supply. A lack of renewable power storage devices increases our reliance on coal and natural gas. Conducting technological advancements in the storage sector may improve mining companies’ accessibility to low-emission electricity.

The Vistra power company developed a large-scale renewable energy storage facility in Monterey, California. They converted an old power plant into the Moss Landing Energy Storage Facility, housing giant batteries in smokestacks.

One of the smokestacks holds a 300 megawatt-hour lithium-ion battery. It stores and produces 1,200 megawatt-hours of clean energy every four hours. They can meet California’s peak energy demands by incorporating renewable power into the regional supply.

Mining companies can access stored clean energy to fuel their machinery and lower their environmental impact. Additionally, they can save money now that solar power is more cost-effective than fossil fuel-generated electricity.

Energy Efficient Devices

Supporting renewable power in mining requires the adoption of energy-efficient devices. When using excessive quantities of electricity, the source develops stress and quickly depletes. Low emission and impact machinery can help a mining company achieve energy efficiency.

Sustainable mining devices generate less abrasion and pipe damage, protecting the environment and conserving materials. Over time, companies can reduce their waste production by utilizing long-lasting products. They conserve the energy used in device and material production.

Another recent invention that the mining industry can use for energy efficiency is electric trucks. Since Tesla generated the first commercial electric vehicle, other companies began developing industrial models. Today, a company in Switzerland operates solely with electric trucks.

The vehicle can hold 65 tons of materials and store 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity. It additionally eliminates 196 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, enhancing climate change prevention measures. Unlike a conventional mining truck, the electric vehicle relies on zero fossil fuels.

Using electric vehicles in mining may limit the demand for natural gas, decreasing production. It also increases energy efficiency and allows companies to charge their batteries with renewable electricity. The industry can use technological advancements and development, producing other energy-efficient mining devices.

The Future of Mining

Since President Biden initiated the Build Back Better plan, various industries took energy reduction measures, increasing their sustainability. Though mining has a long-standing connection with ecological degradation, it can alter their practices and reduce their impact.

Adopting green technology and renewable power sources can shrink the industry’s carbon footprint and increase its energy efficiency. Sustainability measures may also increase a company’s savings while reducing its reliance on greenhouse gas emitting fuel. Consumers reward mining companies for their eco-conscious efforts by supporting their business over competitors.

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