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Solar Energy to Take Over Mining Sites

Dashboard regularly posts articles about the latest news and innovations from a wide variety of industries, including renewable energy and mining.

Rarely however do we get the chance to see these two technologies interacting, as it has not been commonplace to employ modernist methods in the traditional processes of mining. This however seems to be changing as the costs of renewable energy are dropping.

When it first came onto the scene, green energy was expensive, infeasible and complicated to use. As it has become more efficient and popular over the years, with economies of scale-type effect, it has also made itself financially viable. This has finally been noted by the mining industry who are preparing to trial solar energy in Queensland, Australia. It is the work of the world’s biggest mining company, BHP Billiton, whose idea is “solar photovoltaic installation and grid-scale storage.” This is to be adopted on remote sites across the state by the coming of the next year.

BHP’s Vice President of Sustainability and Climate change, Fiona Wild, said in an interview that the company “want to identify the technologies that have the opportunity to materially lower emissions.” The specific batteries they are looking at are in a fringe-of-grid location, and according to Wild, “a lot of their locations fall into that category.’’

The project in question is not completely new though – in 2015, Rio Tinto Group and Barrick Gold Corporation installed solar plants in their mines in South Africa and Chile. Since the announcement very little has been heard from the companies about the endeavour, which diminishes the importance of their intent to bring solar energy into mining. This time the difference is not only in the initiator but also the form of solar power incorporated. Perhaps a smaller scale will bring more success in cooperation between renewable energy and the mining industry.

As we have interest in both fields equally, we are delighted to see companies of such size are taking note of the opportunities that renewable energy can offer them. While it is not yet at a cost-parity level with the miners’ long-time favourite, fossil based sources, it is predicted to achieve that soon. When that happens, we expect to see even more collaboration between the two.