THE ISSUE

Sustainability of deep mining is reliant on the reduction and optimization of energy consumption. With many approaches available for consideration (different equipment, different operating practices, etc.), it is essential to have a systematic, rational method available for mines to determine the best set of options. A review of precedent energy management practices in mineral operations has highlighted the energy challenges characteristic of the sector, and has informed the formulation of optimal mine site energy supply; choosing the best combination of fuels, energy supply technologies as well as identifying the best way to operate the equipment.

THE SOLUTION

This study, developed within the framework of research projects under Smart Underground Monitoring and Intergrated Technologies for Deep Mining (SUMIT) outlines the priorities of investigation, development and demonstration of new concepts and technologies to improve energy efficiency and reduce consumption of primary energy in the mining sector. Specific requirements and constraints of mineral production operations are considered against methodologies that have worked well for other sectors, such as cogeneration (the process whereby a single fuel source is used to generate two forms of useful energy) and polygeneration integrated energy supply systems that simultaneously generate two or more energy carriers (e.g. electricity and heat), in order to gain new perspective for on-site energy supply of mine sites.

INNOVATION IN PROGRESS

Scenarios with substantial economic potential in which renewables are advantageous have been identified, alone or in combination with conventional generation systems and/or utility connections. Scenario analysis based on the capability to identify optimal energy supply systems for specific load profiles helps: identify potential reductions in energy or production costs; improve the resilience of energy supply to ensure energy availability, with the added benefit of realizing a potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

An energy supply superstructure for a mining operation. Horizontal lines show the energy utilities supplied. Blocks show the energy conversion technologies that may feature in the optimal mine site energy supply solution

To date, the formulation efforts are complete, and the solution team is focusing on developing a new mine-userfriendly software tool to implement the optimal mine site energy supply analysis. While the research is applied and has a Canadian focus, the work is of global scientific importance and its theoretical extensions are of generic applicability for all integration studies across disciplines.

Contact

  • Dean Millar, MIRARCO, Laurentian University
  • 1-705-675-1151 x 5071
  • dmillar@mirarco.org
  • www.mirarco.org

Solution team

  • Alberto Romero (PhD), MIRARCO
  • Adam Turcotte, MIRARCO
  • Monica Carvalho, Universidade Federal da Paraiba (UFPB)