WA mines should turn to solar, wind power: Report

Radiator Coolant, Dishwasher Rinse Aid, Fabric Conditioner, Laundry PowderIt’s an interesting thought… powering remote coal, gas or uranium mines with renewable energy. Yet according to a new study, eco-friendlyenergy (fromindustrialliquid biomass, wind and solar) could supply up to 500MW to the Pilbara and Mid West region. The only stumbling block for extreme green energy is concerns over cost and reliability.

Remote mining provinces in WA have been identified as key areas for the deployment of renewable energy.

A new study commissioned by the Australian Centre for Renewable energy and conducted by consulting group Evans and Peck has looked at renewable energy options for the Pilbara and Mid West regions.

It has concluded that up to 500MW of renewables could be could be deployed in the Pilbara by 2020. Up to 150MW could be deployed in off-grid locations in the Mid West.

Powering remote mining sites with renewable energy would be more environmentally friendly. Liquid biomass, solar and wind renewables can be costly compared to fossil-fuel based energy sources, but in remote areas these costs can be kept more competitive.

“There appears no better place for renewables to compete on cost,” the report states.

Opposed to change

A culture of adversity to change presents one of the greatest barriers to mining companies adopting renewable energy sources.

The report identified a perception by mining companies that renewables posed “unacceptable risk” in terms of reliability.

“The appetite for novelty is low… the Pilbara is a location where things have to work well and there’s little time for those that cannot demonstrate this.”

Olympic Dam

The report highlighted BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine in South Australia as an example of a mining project which had been prepared to consider using renewable energy alternatives.

The mining giant has identified renewable energy as a key possibility for reducing the environmental impacts of its Olympic Dam expansion. As part of its commitment to the green revolution, it will consider renewable energy to power its desalination plant and pump stations.

“BHP Billiton recognises the potential of local solar energy, regional geothermal and the State’s wind resources and has had discussions with many specialist renewable energy companies,” the company has stated.

Leading Perth-based supplier of eco-friendly liquid products Envirosafe Solutions hassupported efforts to make remote mining sites more environmentally friendly. Liquid cleaners including hardwater laundry liquid and porta-loo treatments designed for remote areas often contain toxic chemicals which can contaminate soil and water.  Envirosafe Solutions’ Extreme Green range is safe for greywater and septic treatment systems.

Tapping into renewable energy sources to power mining operations is another step toward a greener mining sector. For more environmental mining solutions call 1300 88 90 70 or email info@evss.com.au.