Mining cos can bet on renewables in fight for reliable, fair power - study

Solar panel. Author: Oregon Department of Transportation. License: Creative Commons

February 25 (SeeNews) - Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power have emerged as a wise options for mining companies, whose discontent with their energy providers is growing.

According to a study by Thomas Hillig Energy Consulting (THEnergy) mining groups can improve their negotiating position considerably by backing renewable energy projects. They can lower by as much as 20% their electricity prices and trim their diesel prices by up to 15% after they have built a wind or solar systems, THEnergy says.

“Mining companies who understand this potential will not wait very long with building their first wind and solar pilot plants,” commented the consulting firm’s founder Thomas Hillig.

The report comes just days after South Africa’s Sibanye Gold Ltd (JSE:SGL) said it is mulling investing ZAR 3 billion (USD 261m/EUR 230m) to build a 150-MWp solar power plant. The gold producer aims to limit its reliance on state-run utility Eskom and find an alternative to the “inconsistent and increasingly expensive power”.

According to THEnergy’s study, Sibanye is not alone. Total of 32 interviews with mining, financial and renewable energy experts have revealed that many mining groups are not satisfied with their energy supplier. One good reason is that globally oil and coal prices have dropped to a six-year low but this is rarely reflected in energy bills. Miners in Africa, parts of Asia and South America, also have to deal with unreliable energy supply, including frequent load shedding or power outages which are critical for many mining processes.

THEnergy is expecting a major shift toward renewable energy application in the mining sector.

(ZAR 10 = USD 0.871/EUR 0.767)

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Browse all articles from Tsvetomira Tsanova

Tsvet has been following the development of the global renewable energy industry for almost nine years. She's got a soft spot for emerging markets.

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