Changing the Mining Industry to Renewable EnergyBy Lorenzo Núñez | Wed, 05/05/2021 - 10:25
Q: What benefits does Jorgensen offer the Mexican mining industry?
A: We specialize in building thermosolar plants that produce heat for industrial processes. In the mining industry, fuel-based boilers are the common source of heat. Our goal is to introduce solar energy for this purpose. Our product saves money and helps users reduce their carbon emissions. Many companies that wish to switch to renewable energies make the argument that the transition can be overpriced. However, it is important to mention that these energies, while they do require a large initial investment, over time are free of cost. Normally, it takes around four years for our clients to see a return on their investment. While four years can sound like a long time, especially for a junior mine, the life expectancy of our products is 25 years. This means that after four years, you are left with 21 years of free renewable energy.
We work with two business models. EPC or turnkey projects involve an initial investment from our clients that later turns into a free energy source. The other model is a heat supply contract that clients directly sign with us. A financial associate provides the investment for our plant installation, making the associate the owner of the plant itself. This means that our client does not have to invest in any installation. Instead, the client would only pay for the energy it uses.
Q: What are the differences between yout technologies and those of your competitors?
A: Our panels are extremely efficient. Another important trait is that they are easy to clean. In a mining operation, there is a great deal of dust that covers the panels. Our flat panels have been proven to be very easy to clean. Worldwide, there are few companies that handle massive thermosolar installations and we are representing one of those here in Mexico.
Q: How does Jorgensen monitor energy consumption at the Milpillas project?
A: We signed a service contract with Peñoles. We visit the mine a few times a year and alongside our client, we review the current state of the plant and decide whether or not it requires maintenance. Sometimes, they have new staff members who need to learn the operation of the plant, so we offer them training services. In some cases, it is not profitable for a mining company to have a group of our technicians operating the plant 24/7. So, we offer them different options.
Q: What are the challenges of convincing a mining company to invest in your technologies?
A: The mining industry wants to pollute less and implement greater sustainability in their operations. We sit down and discuss our proposal with our clients and for the most part, mining companies will usually take some time to make a decision. It is difficult for a mine to change the way it operates. Like most humans in general, mining companies tend to do what everybody else is doing. The majority of the industry is using fuel as their source of heat, so it makes sense that companies are hesitant to make investments in renewable energy. We saw the same hesitance in Denmark, where the transition started with only one thermosolar plant. Then there was a sudden surge in the market that ultimately resulted in most operations switching to renewable energy. We already participated in the largest thermosolar installation in Mexico. I believe the same will happen in Mexico and the rest of Latin America.
Jorgensen builds large scale solar thermal plants, which help you lower your energy costs and at the same time, lower CO2 emissions. Large-scale solar heating offers the cheapest source of thermal energy – also compared to fossil fuels.