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Building energy reliability for the mining industry

By Johan Helberg, Head of Mining at Aggreko, Africa, Middle East, and Asia

The mining sector faces considerable headwinds across the faltering global and local economies, geopolitical complexity, and power instability. Energy supply shortages are affecting mining organisations – the sector has had to navigate soaring costs, increasingly demanding sustainability regulations, and unreliable power supply while dealing with mercurial markets and fluctuating economies. They need an integrated energy approach that leverages natural and available resources in a solid and well-structured ecosystem which is cost-effective, reliable, and sustainable.

Protecting this asset from the vagaries of an unreliable energy supply is crucial. And yes, the mining sector is an asset, one that has the potential to reinvigorate the economy while reimagining unemployment, community growth and stability. This means that there must be a smarter way of curating energy solutions that deliver high reliability.

The key component of a functional and well-integrated solution is to blend renewable sources with traditional energy solutions within a reliable system that is bolstered by batteries and smart energy management systems. Having access to a variety of energy solutions means management can intelligently coordinate all the components, thereby lowering the cost of electricity and ensuring consistent reliability. These hybrid solutions – those that combine renewable and traditional sources of energy – need to be constructed and implemented in a way that helps companies overcome the challenges they face. This requires a consultative approach.

There is no one-size-fits-all. A cohesive energy solution requires that the service provider sit down with the mining organisation to understand their technical and environmental requirements. Collaboration is key to ensuring that any solution can deliver what’s needed. It isn’t about selling a generator or renting a solar field, it’s finding the deepest way an energy solution provider can provide its services without disruption in the most cost-efficient and environmentally friendly way. There has to be flexibility built into the offering so that it can evolve and adapt to a mining company’s needs. It is far more efficient to have scalability and flexibility woven into an offering rather than a rigid energy solution incapable of growing with the business. Or managing sudden changes in demand or load due to unexpected circumstances.

Hybrid energy solutions developed by professional service providers and in collaboration with a mining organisation will deliver a stable power infrastructure that can handle grid instability while remaining within cost and budgeting expectations. Sustainable and hybrid energy solutions also help the mining sector overcome the growing need to meet sustainability goals and mandates across the globe. Sustainability has become more than just an expectation for reporting as well. The right energy structure within a hybrid grid focused on optimising sustainability goals can introduce financially driven savings and less impact on the mine operations’ carbon footprint.

However, hybrid requires that companies take a balanced approach. Known as the energy trilemma, this is the need to find balance across sustainability, cost, and reliability for mining operations. How can mining companies find this balance without compromising operations or increasingly tight budgets? They must perform; they must meet mandates – how can they shift the dynamic of the trilemma towards a trusted energy solution?

Well, the answer lies in partnering with a service provider that understands the value of customisation. Hybrid models may ask that mines and energy solutions find a delicate balance, they also allow mines to explore multiple energy options and refine their structures to meet their needs right at the edge. Then, within this customisation, mines gain the benefits of renewable energy without compromising on performance and energy reliability. Aggreko’s remote hybrid solutions are crafted for deployment in the global mining sector. Crafted specifically for the demanding environment of remote mining, our hybrid energy solutions genuinely address the industry’s needs. With Aggreko having designed and implemented multiple such projects worldwide, operated them for years, and many other contractually secured or under construction now; mines collaborating with us can leverage the insights we’ve gained from deploying innovative energy technologies. You can confidently embrace a trusted solution designed with your unique operating landscape in mind.

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