An increasingly economically viable option for the mining industry is the development of green mining initiatives and more environment-friendly projects.
Mining companies have not been able to work sparingly with energy as they grind ore, but the increasing cost of energy has miners turn to renewable energy to cut costs. The rise of electricity prices is impacting on existing and future operations and many mining houses are examining the long-term cost curve of energy and challenges to the sustainability of the mine going forward. Around 25 percent of production costs represent energy and companies like Barrick Gold Crop., Teck Resources Ltd. and Rio Tinto PLC has ambitious wind-farm projects in motion that will reduce energy costs and provide the much-needed social benefit of reducing their environmental footprint. Environmental compliance and future cost considerations will become a mainstream business requirement and will impact on the mining industry. In South Africa, at AngloGold Ashanti/Motjoli Resource Mining for Change workshop, Pan-African Capital CE Dr Iraj Abedian advocated the concept of mining and managing the environment as a joint production activity that could dovetail with other pursuits like the agriculture and light industry. Solar, Wind and other renewable energy projects are considered to clean up their operations and investments are being made to work towards a greener mining industry. Emerging coal company Ecca Group CEO Dale Packham says investment access is more readily available for environment-friendly projects. The concept of green finance and responsible investing has resulted in investors examining whether a company of mine is as suitable as they should be. The world’s largest gold miner, Barrick Gold Corp is moving ahead with alternative energy projects, and has inaugurated its $70-million Punta Colorada wind operation, the first wind farm built by a mining company in Chile. Barrick’s vice president of environment said, “It’s a good opportunity for our guys in south America to get first-hand experience with what it takes to operate wind farms long-term. Our position right now as a company is really one of looking at the future, trying to understand a bit about where the energy market is going, but also trying to understand where government is taking us regarding climate change.”