Tag Archives: Mining

Updates from McKinsey

Climate risk and decarbonization: What every mining CEO needs to know
Building a climate strategy won’t be quick or easy—but waiting is not an option.
By Lindsay Delevingne, Will Glazener, Liesbet Grégoir, and Kimberly Henderson – In the mining industry, the impact of climate change and how the industry can respond to it has increasingly been a topic of discussion over the past decade.

Mining is no stranger to harsh climates; much of the industry already operates in inhospitable conditions. But forecasts of hazards such as heavy precipitation, drought, and heat indicate these effects will get more frequent and intense, increasing the physical challenges to mining operations.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, 195 countries pledged to limit global warming to well below 2.0°C, and ideally not more than 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. That target, if pursued, would manifest in decarbonization across industries, creating major shifts in commodity demand for the mining industry and likely resulting in declining global mining revenue pools. Mining-portfolio evaluation must now account for potential decarbonization of other sectors.

The mining sector itself will also face pressure from governments, investors, and society to reduce emissions. Mining is currently responsible for 4 to 7 percent of greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions globally. Scope 1 and Scope 2 CO2 emissions from the sector (those incurred through mining operations and power consumption, respectively) amount to 1 percent, and fugitive-methane emissions from coal mining are estimated at 3 to 6 percent. 1 A significant share of global emissions—28 percent—would be considered Scope 3 (indirect) emissions, including the combustion of coal.

The mining industry has only just begun to set emission-reduction goals. Current targets published by mining companies range from 0 to 30 percent by 2030, far below the Paris Agreement goals. Mines theoretically can fully decarbonize (excluding fugitive methane) through operational efficiency, electrification, and renewable-energy use. Capital investments are required to achieve most of the decarbonization potential, but certain measures, such as the adoption of renewables, electrification, and operational efficiency, are economical today for many mines. more>


Updates from GE

Inside This South African Smelter, Software Is Going Platinum
By P.D. Olson – Demand for platinum, also known as the rich man’s gold, has been growing because of a long list of evolving industrial applications, including computer memory chips, dental crowns, defibrillators, catalytic converters for cars and even wedding bands.

The metal is so rare that miners and smelters literally move mountains to extract only a few hundred tons of the metal out of the earth’s crust every year. Following an expensive and time-consuming process, it takes them half a year and around 12 tons of ore to produce just a single troy ounce, or 31.1 grams, of platinum worth around $1,100.

No wonder producers like Lonmin, a platinum-mining company in South Africa, where 70 percent of the world’s platinum is produced, are looking for an upgrade.

Percy French, operations manager at Lonmin, is betting on a digital solution. A decade ago, he began using a smelter software application from GE’s Digital Mine suite to make his operation more efficient. By 2016 the software had helped him increase throughput at Lonmin.

Based on this early success, French upgraded his systems to include a new application that allows him to track plant performance and key performance indicators and also automate operations. The app, called Operations Performance Management (OPM), uses real-time and historical data along with advanced analytics to help Lonmin make better-informed operational decisions and help the plant troubleshoot and prevent issues with its machines and other assets. So far, the app has reduced chemical waste at Lonmin by 3 percent and has led to a 10 percent improvement in throughput. more>

The Economics of Exploitation

By Mark Kernan – As global demand for finite and non-renewable mineral and hydrocarbon resources has increased, so too, has there been a direct inverse effect: the communal lands of indigenous groups have become highly prized as commercially profitable commodities.

Unsurprisingly, in this unequal relationship between international extractive firms and traditional societies the power dynamic lies decisively with the extractive corporations.

Consequently, communal lands are being expropriated, “enclosed” and mined for commercial profit.

Thus indigenous and nomadic communal cultures, rich in spiritual and temporal wealth and knowledge, are being slowly decimated. more> http://tinyurl.com/olby68a

Mining, Money, and Environmental Morals

By Nathan Collins – For many of us, protecting the environment is a moral imperative, one that we wouldn’t compromise for any amount of money. At least, that’s what we like to think.

According to a new study, moral convictions may go out the window more easily than we’d like to admit when money’s on the line.

Though organized religion’s relationship with the environment is complicated to say the least, religious figures throughout history have felt a moral calling to protect the natural world.

More recently, Pope Francis cast environmental issues in a social—and therefore moral—light.

Yet money is a strong pull, too, and we might not always feel like we have a choice between taking care of our planet and simply getting by. But when does one trump the other? more> http://tinyurl.com/qcvwgsx


Updates from GE

Trains with Brains Will Haul Ore Through Earth’s Closest Thing to Mars
GE – The Pilbara, which is located in Western Australia, might be extreme, but, unlike Mars, it is also teeming with life. Some of the world’s largest mining companies are using house-size trucks and long, snaking trains to excavate iron ore and haul it to port in temperatures frequently topping 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55 Celsius). “We don’t run a locomotive anywhere in the world that’s hotter than here,” says Fraser Borden from GE Transportation.

Each 232-car train, powered by four 4,400 horsepower locomotives will zip down Roy Hill’s track at 50 miles per hour with more than 30,000 tons of ore. The mine plans to run five trains every day.

But the engines’ brawn is just one part of the story. The locomotives come equipped with some 250 sensors that monitor speed, temperature and other conditions. Every hour, the sensors will send 9 million data points over 6.6 miles of wiring to a system called Locotrol Distributed Power, which uses it to manage the movement of the train over the entire route.

In the future, the locomotives could become completely automated and allow Roy Hill to run driverless trains. Says R.J. Foy, a leader for on-board electronics at GE Transportation: “Small, light trains are operated driverless today at airports and some metro systems. We are working on extending that technology to automate the massive 1.5 mile long, 30,000 ton freight trains that Roy Hill wants to run.” more> http://tinyurl.com/pz8nwmm


CONGRESS WATCH The association between mountaintop mining and birth defects among live births in central Appalachia, 1996-2003, PubMed.gov/NIH Mountaintop Mining Consequences, M. A. Palmer, E. S. Bernhardt, W. H. Schlesinger, K. N. Eshleman1, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, M. S. Hendryx, A. D. … Continue reading