Image credits: Rob Wingate
News Article

Miners Make Significant Progress in Clean Energy Efforts

By Paloma Duran | Wed, 07/27/2022 - 12:53

Amid the industry's push toward decarbonization, several mining companies in Mexico are focusing their efforts on moving away from diesel toward greener alternatives to power their operations. Although companies use different strategies, they are making significant progress.

The mining industry creates close to 3 percent of global CO2 emissions and has a large role to play in the reduction of these emissions, according to McKinsey & Company. To achieve a less than 1.5°C temperature increase climate-change target by 2050, the mining industry will need to reduce direct CO2 emissions to zero, reported MBN.

In Mexico, most mining companies buy electricity to power their operations, whereas off-grid projects rely heavily on diesel. However, as investors demand greener operations, mining companies are moving toward greener alternatives and investing in technologies to generate cleaner energy. According to experts, carbon emissions could be reduced by 90 percent if mining companies transition from diesel power generation to green energy sources.

First Majestic is one of the mining companies moving away from diesel. In 2016, the company began its transition process to liquefied natural gas (LNG) at its La Encantada mine, which has generated significant environmental and cost benefits. The company has also decided to transition to LNG at its Santa Elena mine, which will soon operate without diesel generators. First Majestics expects to soon switch its diesel generators to LNG at its San Dimas mine, too.

Meanwhile, Altaley Mining announced that its Tahuehueto project will also transition to natural gas-fired power once it receives the corresponding permit, which is expected to be granted within a year. The company announced that it is also looking to implement solar or wind power in its operations. However, the latter will be more complicated due to its high capital costs.

Alamos Gold announced that it was also transitioning to cleaner options at its Mulatos mine, which is being connected to a power grid. The energy switch was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, equipment issues and regulatory changes. However, it is expected to be ready in early 2023. Alamos announced that it is also exploring the option of increasing the use of biofuels, which will further help the company achieve its goal of reducing emissions by 30 percent by 2030.

Argonaut Gold is connecting its San Agustín mine to grid power. The company announced that last year in its Colorado it reduced diesel use by 67 percent. Additionally, Agnico Eagle Mines stressed that while it is still using diesel generators, it is focusing on increasing their efficiency and reducing their use. Currently, the company's average global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) intensity is 0.37t/oz regarding carbon dioxide equivalent, while the industry average is 0.70t/oz.

According to the latest report of the Mexican Mining Chamber (CAMIMEX), the national mining industry reduced its CO2 emissions by 19 percent and sourced 31 percent of its energy from clean sources like wind, solar and hydropower in 2020.


The data used in this article was sourced from:  
CAMIMEX, MBN, BNamericas
Photo by:   Rob Wingate
Paloma Duran Paloma Duran Journalist and Industry Analyst