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News Article

Optimize Mine Operations and Minimize Carbon Footprints

By Miriam Bello | Fri, 07/08/2022 - 09:36

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.

Technological advances have amplified the sector’s environmental impact as operations grow, but they also have the power to diminish this effect. “First of all, being able to measure the environmental impact of each company is fundamental,” began Matt Gallimore, Senior Manager Sustainability, MetsoOutotec. The company, which develops tech and other products for mining and refining companies company, measure CO2 emissions. With these measurements, Metso Outotec hopes toreduce its own emissions too, through which it can becomeexample for its customers.

Once companies have an outline of their environmental impact, tech can become an ally to work on an effective way to mitigate this issue. “For decades, this industry has worked without knowing what will happen along the way. Tech allows to change this scenario in every way, from operations to the very impact that mining activities may have,” said Fernando Gómez, Account Manager North America and Mexico, Minesense.

Gómez explained that Minesense grants customers adequate visibility in their real time operations. The company pioneers in digital mining solutions with data analytics for mines that paint a clear picture for clients looking to optimize operations andcontrol pollution. “Our systems also support all routing decisions at the point of extraction, minimizing risks integrally,” Gomez said. 

For the mining industry, which often operates in remote locations, the utilization of fossil fuels has strongly influenced emissions. Like other sectors, the mining industry also struggles with fluctuating oil prices and evolving climate regulations. “Realizing the problem, Rentar Fuel Catalyst developed a unique, patented product with a low carbon output, all while increasing productivity for the mining industry. It allows to reduce carbon emissions significantly by increasing the efficiency of fuels,” Ricardo Gentzsch, Business Development, Rentar Fuel Catalyst.

All providers along the mining value chain share the same level of responsibility to reduce the environmental impact of mining. For companies working directly with mining operators, costumer feedback helps to create the most comprehensive solutions. “As an equipment manufacturer, we do not have mines of our own to test, so validation always requires costumer involvement. We are keen to present innovation to costumers to reduce the water usage and energy consumption of equipment.The company is also encouraging the circularity of products while ensuring the highest level of security,” shared Gallimore. 

As the industry begins to integrate more tech, digital twins and machine learning are widely requested, Gallimore said. “Innovation in risk management can help mitigate the negative impact of a volatile operational environment and keep our operations running,” said Chafika Eddine, Chief Sustainability Officer, Orla Mining.

Yet Innovating mining processes is not only about reducing the ecological footprint, but also considers making the business more efficient whole minimizing operating costs, according to Gentzsch. For instance, using smart fuel enables operations to reduce costs and accomplish their daily tasks, too. “Rentar Fuel Capacity’s solution uses tech with a complete combustion that burns less fuel while improving operations,” he said. 

“With our solution, we measure consumption steadily and make it more sustainable. By knowing what equipment uses the fuel and how to make it as efficient as possible, we are reducing the amount of diesel that mining operations are using,” Gómez said. 

Tech has also evolved other operational aspects. Gallimore said these were equipment design, operational processes and interconnection. “Through this, we are able to create simulations to come up with an optimal offer for green and brownfielddevelopment. Clients can base their decisions on these simulations.”

Companies are also facing logistical concerns and supply chain shortages, as well as pressures from inflation and rising interest rates, explained Eddine. For these reasons, creating innovation to decarbonize the mining industry could play a meaning full role in reducing the supply chain emissions while solving these financial challenges, explained Gentzsch, who added that creating a diversified team ensures fresh ideas are brought to the table.

 

Water usage is yet another key focus area. “To continue operating at the same rate, water is fundamental. But its reserves are declining, forcing us to extract more water from the ground and filter it. Reducing water consumption is fundamental, so we are already increasing the adoption of dry technology whereverpossible,” said Gallimore.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst