Energy represents a tremendous improvement opportunity for mining companies since savings derived from more proactive energy management are inextricably linked to energy management.
The mining sector operates on a massive scale, and accordingly, it is a massive energy consumer. Energy is one of the biggest expenses for mining companies, constituting approximately 30% of total cash operating costs. This would include not just what the mine draws from the grid, but also the diesel, LNG and CNG it consumes as well as the explosives that are used. After all, explosives comprise energy that is put into the system and can be optimised. Most organisations do not manage this as a portfolio and don’t have full visibility into what is such a significant cost driver for the system.
Although much of the sector has over the past 18 months experienced lower energy expenses ($/t) due to depressed oil and natural gas prices, through the same period many mining companies showed an increase in energy intensity (GJ/t), thus effectively wasting the opportunity to create a more sustainable footprint while prices were low. This could be particularly problematic considering that energy is poised to account for an even bigger share of mining input costs in the future, even if energy prices remain flat.