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Energy and Water Challenges: Helping Mining Companies Reduce Risk, Lower Costs

Over the past few years, low commodity prices have forced mining companies to take a hard look at how they run their operations – particularly their use of energy and water.

“In some cases, energy use can account for as much as 50 percent of a mine's operating costs," said Dennis Gibson, Chief Technical Officer for mining at Black & Veatch.

Because of their often remote locations, and the need for reliable power, many mining operations are forced to rely on diesel generators to power their operations. These generators may be reliable, but running them is expensive and produces significant carbon emissions.

For these reasons, a growing number of mining companies are incorporating on-site or locally produced renewable energy into their operations, according to Gibson.  He recommended resilient power solutions, including solar, wind, geothermal and hydropower. Often microgrids are connected to larger grids for power sharing.

“In many locations, where environmental factors are favorable, there is significant wind and solar potential to provide far more than token power to mining operations."

Dennis Gibson, Chief Technical Officer for mining at Black & Veatch