On Monday, South African research firm, BMI Research, released a report identifying mining industries in South Africa, Chile and Australia as being the most likely to emerge as global leaders in the industry’s shift to renewable energy.

According to Business Day live, the report noted that miners residing in marginalised communities with limited to no access to conventional power would adopt renewable technology at a much faster rate than in countries like China, India and the US.

Mining industries to adopt clean power tech

The report further highlighted that the mining industry in the respective three countries have the advantage of favourable climates for wind and solar projects.

The report said: “Power supply uncertainty remains a key challenge for miners in SA, making independently sourced renewable power plants a particularly attractive option.

“For instance, Sibanye Gold said in its latest annual report that electricity costs increased by 13%, largely due to the annual Eskom electricity increase of 12.7%. Between 2007 and 2015, Sibanye’s electricity costs rose from about 9% of total costs to 18%, despite the reduction in the firm’s electricity consumption by 20% over the same period.

“As a result, the firm continues to develop a solar photovoltaic project at the Driefontein and Kloof operations, to complement baseload power, expecting commercial operation by 2017,” BMI said.

Energy intensive users using clean power

Media highlighted another example, which was Anglo American, who installed a thermal heating plant at its Waterval smelting premises in Rustenberg.

This project was carried out with Vuselela Energy and H1 Holdings, which received R30 million ($2 million) from the Department of Trade and Industry, media reported.

[quote]Business Day live said that: “BMI expects Chile to remain a global outperformer in renewable energy use in the mining sector as the increasing cost-competitiveness and security of supply of renewables prove to be preferable to diesel or grid power alone.”

The report added: “Indeed, energy costs can reach up to 40% for remotely located Chilean mines, where access to power grids is often unfeasible and relying on diesel is particularly expensive.

“Copper miner Codelco began investing in solar power several years ago, as did Anglo American and Glencore at the jointly owned Collahuasi copper mine. In addition, favourable geographic and climate conditions will strengthen the country’s mining-renewables trend.

“For instance, mines located in the northern Atacama Desert are ideal candidates for solar power, while mines located in the southern Patagonia region are well-suited for wind farms.”