A State of Play report has revealed that 53 per cent of individuals surveyed are exploring electrification of their mine sites as a way to reduce costs.
The Electrification report from the world’s largest mining research platform uncovered a broad acceptance of the concept into the future.
It surveyed over 450 individuals in the industry, and the cost of transitioning was a hot topic.
Of course, the costs of an energy transition come in many forms, as the survey revealed.
It was found 88 per cent see economic cost as being the major risk of electrifying a mine site.
“Reducing economic uncertainty is therefore key to accelerating the development of electrified mining systems,” the report stated.
At the same time, the environmental costs of not transitioning could become a larger problem in the coming years.
The report stated diesel particulate fumes have over 40 toxic pollutants and 1.2 million Australian workers are exposed each year.
“Electrification will reduce diesel particulate emissions, improving health and safety outcomes, and reduce carbon emissions,” the report stated.
State of Play co-founder and chairman Graeme Stanway said electrification could have multiple benefits to operations.
“Electric equipment will allow for a shift from the typical underground mine sites we see today in Australia with many pieces of heavy equipment, powered by diesel, operating underground in confined spaces alongside teams of people, towards a clean future of mining not seen before,” Stanway said.
“A future where machinery is safe, automated and battery powered. This would effectively cut out two of the biggest issues in mining: carbon impact and particulate exposure and result in zero carbon emission mines.”
Not only will the transition benefit the environment and workforce health, but 91 per cent of survey respondents expected the change to create opportunities for new business models.
A slightly lower slice at 86 per cent believed transparency in the sourcing of raw materials would create further value for mining companies, as customers become increasingly interested in the responsible nature of their consumption.
Stanway said the benefits were there to be reaped, but questions remained about the path to achieve them.
“Our data shows renewables, all electric systems and batteries will help fuel the change towards a healthier, economically viable future of mining, but uncertainty remains when it comes to which area to invest in first, and how,” Stanway said.
Leadership from government must take place, according to the report, as no one country has established itself as a leader in the field.
“The ability for government to mobilise investment in electrification is dependent on policy predictability and clarity,” the report stated.
“Rewarding first movers by removing competing technology subsidies, creating new tax rebates and providing research and development grants can help reduce the perceived risks associated with new technology deployment.”
The report concluded that business models will need to be restructured, as respondents suggested, and the most adaptable businesses will see the most benefits.