The Path from Mining to Decarbonization
You can read our editorial coverage of this panel here.
Verónica Martínez, Senior Programme Officer -Innovation and Climate Change at ICMM, introduced the panel “The Road to Decarbonization: Innovative Haulage Systems” which focused on the industry’s transition to decarbonization, its challenges and the benefits it could obtain by incorporating new technologies.
"The miners are conservative, but once we get to build the first mine with this Muckahi process, it will completely change the industry," said Fred Stanford, president of Torex Gold Resources. Stanford presented its Muckahi process that increases production through the efficient use of elevated rails, which is a cost-effective process for transporting people, mining devices, and minerals out of underground mines. Standford added that the company is testing and building machines that are required for the Muckahi process, besides carrying out a prefeasibility study that will be ready in March 2022, which will include costs, benefits and risk assessment.
Stanford explained that Torex Gold has long time investors , and they are always worried about the risks that could arise. He said that for several years, investors have been saying no to its processes; however, with the new ESG trends people have been demanding more of these changes. The financial benefits of the Muckahi process include a 30 percent capital reduction and a 30 percent operational reduction, which are attracting new investors.
The company’s principal assets are the El Limon Guajes mining complex and the Media Luna deposit, an early-stage development project. According to data released by Mexico’s Mining Chamber (CAMIMEX), El Limon Guajes was the country’s second-largest gold producing unit in 2019, churning out 454,800 oz. CAMIMEX highlights that in 2019 Guerrero was the second-largest gold producer in Mexico, registering a record yearly output growth of 19.4 percent, partly thanks to Torex Gold’s performance, reported MBN.
In today’s forum, Andre Barriault, Product Manager Electric Vehicles at Epiroc, explained that the company’s technology can provide more operational benefits than conventional equipment. He also explained that one challenge in this transition is that companies want to know success stories before implementing these solutions. Another challenge is that companies think they will be alone in this transition; however, Barriault emphasized they have Epiroc. “Being innovative and socially responsible does not mean you cannot be profitable or that you have to lose productivity. Mining companies need to have more vision and acknowledge all the benefits they could obtain.”
In a recent interview with MBN, Alfredo Bertrand, General Manager at Epiroc, shared that the company’s battery-powered equipment that address environmental issues was being tested in operations abroad. In addition, the company introduced the first units to the Mexican mining market and the machine that was delivered during 2Q21 to a major mining group.
Koen Langie, Head of Mining Program at Engie’s Hydrogen Business Unit, explained that the company is targeting big mining equipment by incorporating in them hydrogen, which is an excellent complementary. “According to our simulations, hydrogen solutions will be competitive with diesel in 2025. Mining can switch to hydrogen without increasing costs and improving productivity and environmental practices,” said Koen Langie. He explained that the company is combining the batteries’ technology with hydrogen; the first provides a fast energy response and charge, meanwhile, hydrogen can increase the equipment’s autonomy.
Recently, Langie told MBN about the first hydrogen-powered truck created in cooperation with Anglo American, which is expected to operate in 1H21. Langie explained that more than a final product, this is a proof concept that is part of the development process of getting to a commercially viable hydrogen mining truck solution, which can be used not only by Anglo American but by other mining companies that want to start decarbonizing their operations.
Jason Green, President and CTO at GFS Corp, explained that natural gas will play a huge role in the decarbonization of mining companies and that this technology will definitely be the future of OEMs. "Natural gas might be the least 'sexy' option for decarbonization in mining but LNG will still be an important bridge technology," said Green.
Green said that natural gas is a cleaner and not expensive option to reduce carbon emissions. He explained that previously, when the company was starting, customers asked about the risks of investing and incorporating equipment that uses natural gas; however, its acceptance has grown and now questions focus on productivity benefits. Green said the biggest challenge continues to be showing the potential of natural gas. GFS Corp is the worldwide leader in the development of systems that allow large, high horsepower diesel engines to operate on a combination of natural gas and diesel fuel.
Brian Huff, VP of Technology at Sandvik, said the company’s products are ready to be introduce in the Mexican mining sector; however, the challenge lies in increasing awareness regarding these alternative solutions. "This industry is full of people who are ready to do the impossible, but that works for companies that are quite conservative and unwilling to take on new risks," said Huff. However, Sandvik technology is reliable, they have been developing and preparing for the las decade. “The mining sector has the technology, and it can have an easy transition; however, education and awareness are needed for the customer base to understand that these technologies are capable and available for the development of new mines.” Huff added that one of the key innovations that the company has been focused on is minimizing infrastructure changes and an example of this is that the company’s machines can swap their own batteries.
Sandvik is a high-tech and global engineering Group with a strong commitment to enhancing customer productivity, profitability and sustainability. Recently, Sandvik qualified for the renowned Sustainability Yearbook by S&P Global, which applauded the company’s sustainability performance, which is within the top 15 percent of the mining industry.