Renewable energy and the future of mining
The climbing cost of fossil fuels and other pressures will increasingly encourage miners to rely more heavily on renewables for their energy-hungry operations, the inaugural Future Energy and Finance conference heard today.
Speaking as part of the precursor to the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC), Sunshine For Mines Operations Lead Alastaire Dick said the time was right for renewables to contribute a greater amount to mines’ energy needs.
“The change nexus is here. With climate change, public policies, carbon pricing and other pressures on the mining industry, miners need to think differently,” he said.
“For the average mine, 22% of the operational spend is spent on energy. Think about what shaving one or two per cent off that energy cost would do to your bottom line.”
While miners could be “a slow moving bunch” when it came to adopting change, Mr Dick said the shift to renewable energy was well underway and showed no signs of slowing.
“We’ve got to help overcome the cultural barriers and mindsets. We’ve got to think about future generations and be that legacy today,” he said.
Apart from reducing energy costs, Mr Dick said the industry also had the opportunity to deliver shared value and reinforce their social licence to operate by embracing renewables.
Other speakers today explored the future of global energy and the implications for financing and investing in energy, along with new technology to increase generation, efficiency and storage.
More than 2,500 mining leaders, policy makers, financiers and other experts from more than 57 countries have converged in Melbourne for IMARC, Australia’s largest international mining and resources event.
IMARC runs until Thursday 10 November 2016 and will cover all aspects of mining, from exploration, investment and production through to optimisation, technology, health and safety, policy and governance. Decision makers from over 150 mining companies will be in attendance to learn from more than 160 international experts.
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Vale invests $150mn to extend life of Manitoba operations
Vale has announced a $150mn CAD investment to extend current mining activities in Thompson, Manitoba by 10 years while aggressive exploration drilling of known orebodies holds the promise of mining well past 2040.
Global energy transition is boosting the market for nickel
The Thompson Mine Expansion is a two-phase project. The announcement represents Phase 1 and includes critical infrastructure such as new ventilation raises and fans, increased backfill capacity and additional power distribution. The changes are forecast to improve current production by 30%.
“This is the largest single investment we have made in our Thompson operations in the past two decades,” said Mark Travers, Executive Vice-President for Base Metals with Vale. “It is significant news for our employees, for the Thompson community and for the Province of Manitoba.
“The global movement to electric vehicles, renewable energies and carbon reduction has shone a welcome spotlight on nickel – positioning the metal we mine as a key contributor to a greener future and boosting world demand. We are proud that Thompson can be part of that future and part of the low carbon solution.”
Vale continues drilling program at Manitoba
Coupled with today’s announcement, Vale is continuing an extensive drilling program to further define known orebodies and search for new mineralization.
“This $150mn investment is just one part of our ambitious Thompson turnaround story. It is an indicator of our confidence in a long future for the Thompson operations,” added Dino Otranto, Chief Operating Officer for Vale’s North Atlantic Base Metals operations.
“Active collaboration between our design team, technical services, USW Local 6166, and our entire Thompson workforce has delivered a safe, efficient and fit-for-purpose plan that will enable us to extract the Thompson nickel resources for many years to come.”
The Thompson orebody was first discovered in 1956 by Vale (then known as Inco) following the adoption of new exploration technology and the largest exploration program to-date in the company’s history. Mining of the Thompson orebody began in 1961.
“We see the lighting of a path forward to a sustainable and prosperous future for Vale Base Metals in Manitoba,” said Gary Annett, General Manager of Vale’s Manitoba Operations.