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Featured image: Palabora Mining Company

Is your business impacted by an increase in changing weather patterns? There is definitely something afoot as we experience drought, heat waves, floods, and wildfires.

Originally published in the ESI Africa weekly newsletter on 2019/04/03– subscribe today

Some will assign this to climate change knocking at our door and demanding a decrease in carbon emissions. Whether you agree or not, it has placed intensive energy and water industry users – of which mining in Africa is a large participant – firmly under the carbon emissions spotlight.

This rugged industry, often situated in remote areas, requires significant amounts of power and water for its operations. 

Interestingly, in the 1980s, the Chamber of Mines in South Africa saw an opportunity to save on energy by developing hydropower for mining, and specifically for deep gold mines. The identified hydro source was the mines’ cooling water, which would serve a dual purpose of also powering machinery.

But almost 30 years on, the impact of climate change is threatening water resources. How is it possible that with its two main needs (power and water) under strain, the mining sector remains motivated?

Ironically it is the growth in renewable energy development that is providing mines with renewed vigour to keep its ranking as a prime economic driver in Africa.

This perceived unsustainable, dirty industry is piggybacking on its touted clean, sustainable renewable nemesis.

Examine a solar photovoltaic cell and you will find a diverse mix of mineral materials and rare earths, many of which are mined in Africa. A solar farm uses significant tonnages of mineral materials including aluminium, concrete, copper, nickel, steel, and zinc.

However, does the economics of investing in a hydro plant just for your mine’s operations make sense? Another concern is whether this energy source is appropriate to meet the mine’s infrastructure, operations’ layout, and safety needs.

We will discuss these issues and more in a live webinar: Can Hydro Power Mines?

Tune in on 11 April to ask industry experts from Knight Piésold, International Rivers and a consulting metallurgist your pressing questions on this topic.

Read the previous note from the editor here.