The Renewable Power of the Mine

Access to affordable and reliable energy is key for the mining sector and with rising demand for minerals and falling ore grades, energy demand is estimated to increase by 36% by 2035. Today, energy produced and procured by mining companies is mostly fossil fuel based. This will have to change if the sector is to contribute to the decarbonization of the world economy, needed for countries to meet the target adopted at the Paris Agreement of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5-2 degrees Celsius.

At the same time, the costs of solar, wind and battery storage systems have been falling at an unprecedented scale, which has encouraged an increasing number of mining companies to test these technologies at their mine sites. The Renewable Power of the Mine report, launched at the Energy and Mines World Congress in Toronto December 2018 and prepared with the support from the German Cooperation, is the most comprehensive study to date on how the sector has been integrating renewables in their mining operations, the roadblocks that still exist, and the future trends that are likely to further drive the roll-out of renewables to supply electricity to mine sites. 38 case studies are included to highlight practical examples and lessons learned. Recommendations to address the outstanding roadblocks are included for governments, mining companies, independent power producers and donors.

The report is available in EnglishSpanish and German. It has been featured in several media outlets including in the Financial TimesMining.comGreentechMedia and NextBillion.

To further and fully understand how to plan for the decarbonization of mining operations, we need better data. However, neither consumers, corporates, or financial institutions know the embodied emissions in the products they produce or sell. While methods like life-cycle analysis and environmental product declarations exist, none use a verifiable, comparable, or widely adopted emissions reporting framework capable of sending supply chain signals.

The solution to truly reform material supply chains, new solutions for markets, capital, and policy are required. COMET (the Coalition on Materials Emissions Transparency), an alliance launched at Davos in January 2020 by RockyMountain Institute, MIT’s Sustainable Supply Chains initiative, the Colorado School of Mines, and CCSI is working with financiers, producers, and buyers to create a standard greenhouse gas (GHG) calculation framework for mineral and industrial supply chains. See our blog here.