The Road to a Greener Mexican Mining IndustryBy Pedro Alcalá | Thu, 05/20/2021 - 10:43
The energy industry’s role in decarbonizing economic activity is usually related to individual energy consumers and the collective impact of their habits and energy sourcing. However, the energy sector must also work closely with every industry in the country to find opportunities for greener energy consumption patterns and the reduction of carbon footprint. From a business perspective, this comes down to offering cheaper energy costs to clients across the board. Among Mexico’s major national industries, mining stands out as one of the largest energy consumers in the country. Therefore, finding synergies between renewable energy producers and mining companies is an essential part of Mexico’s future energy strategy. In an effort to establish strong relationships between stakeholders, Mexico Business News organized the webinar entitled “Energy Supply and its Optimization in the Mexican Mining Industry”, featuring the participation of two experts from the mining industry and one from the energy industry to best illustrate how custom-made renewable energy solutions can fit the requirements of the mining sector.
The webinar began with a presentation from Marcello De María, Director General of Compañía Occidental Mexicana SA de CV (COMSA), a Mexican mining company and producer of gypsum, with approximately 100 years of history and has established a significant presence all over the continent’s Pacific Coast. De María noted in his presentation that, according to their analysis, the cost of solar energy had decreased 89 percent in the last 10 years. This is what made it feasible for them to pursue a self-supply renewable energy development project that coupled a solar microgrid with a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS). Another factor that contributed significantly to this decision was the rising cost of diesel, which according to their projections is expected to rise in the coming years. “A solar microgrid and a natural gas backup system for emergencies ended up making more business sense, not to mention that it was fitted to our need for independence and our isolated locations,” explained De María.
The second presentation came from Manuel Rubio, Energy Efficiency Manager at Grupo México, one of the country’s largest mining conglomerates. He shared with the audience a detailed audit and analysis of energy consumption patterns at one of the company’s largest mines. One of the conclusions reached by his explorations was that a majority of the mine’s energy use came from processing activities that presented a significant number of opportunities for more efficient operations through the adoption of renewable energy technologies. He also found out just how elevated the price was of sustaining an energy infrastructure based, in its majority, on diesel combustion. “Our characterization of our own mines revealed the many ways in which our operations could benefit from a different approach to our energy supply strategy,” said Rubio.
The third and final presentation came from David Macías, Smart Solar Leader at Iberdrola, the largest private energy producer in Mexico. Macías noted that Mexico’s mining industry represented, at the moment, seven percent of their more than 3,500 clients in the country and he expected this percentage to grow over the coming years given the sector’s energy-intensive nature. For the most part, Macías´ presentation was focused on the many benefits that energy users in the mining sector could enjoy from entering the Wholesale Energy Market (WEM). “Reducing their dependence on diesel and identifying further opportunities for increased energy efficiency are goals that can be achieved by mining companies when joining the WEM.” In their concluding statements the three experts agreed that the use of renewable energy was only one part of the sustainability puzzle for mining companies, with water use being another important component.