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BC Hydro, UBC dig for energy efficiencies in mining

The University of British Columbia and BC Hydro Power Smart are collaborating on a new research initiative that will explore energy conservation in the mining and minerals industry.

As the founding sponsor, BC Hydro's primary goal is to identify opportunities to introduce technologies with the potential to improve electricity efficiency in the minerals industry by at least 20%.

"That would be 500 gigawatt-hours of savings for the industry," says Markus Zeller, one of the project leaders of this initiative.

The project leaders are currently meeting with industry partners to discuss how they can participate and benefit from this research project. In the summer, those industrial sponsors will be consulted as researchers lay the groundwork for the four-year project, which will include energy audits of sponsor operations to identify and quantify major energy draws in the metal mining industry.

The team will then evaluate potential energy efficiency improvements for these operations that could reduce energy needs and lower operating costs. BC Hydro will look closely at the introduction of new, energy-efficient approaches for the comminution (crushing, grinding, etc.) and the extraction of ores to finished metal.

"Our research will identify technologies, but then industry partners would need to bring in expert consultants to continue with in-depth studies," says Zeller.

BC Hydro is looking to make this research project a true collaboration between the utility, the researchers and the industrial sponsors. BC Hydro is inviting organizations who have a stake in mining and minerals, and who are concerned about energy efficiency in their organizations, to explore the program and sponsorship options available.

Organizations have the chance to benefit directly from sponsoring the research, helping oversee the project and its deliverables through each stage. They'll also gain access to research outcomes, methods and tools related to energy-efficient technology for the industry.

A closer look at sponsor benefits

Power Smart's foremost mission is to promote energy conservation to ensure that British Columbians enjoy sustainable, reliable energy for generations to come. By supporting research such as this, BC Hydro aims to help B.C. industry scale back their energy requirements by limiting waste and improving efficiency.

For BC Hydro's industry partners, this translates into reduced costs, improved productivity and added protection against rising energy costs. That all adds up to a significant competitive advantage.

This research initiative is specifically designed to benefit those with a stake in the base metals industry, from mining to refining, especially open-pit operations with a focus on copper, gold and molybdenum.

BC Hydro expects that this project will help address efficiency challenges in a number of areas, by:

  • Establishing measures of energy use and efficiency in mining and processing;
  • Identifying opportunities and methods of improving this efficiency, including mining and processing optimization strategies;
  • Site-specific studies to assess the application of ore pre-concentration, high-pressure grinding rolls and/or stirred mills in reducing energy intensity of mining and processing ore;
  • Methods for conserving energy through the application of more efficient extraction technologies;
  • Methods for the reduction of energy use in base metal electrowinning operations.

Research will begin this summer, with completion targeted for 2013.

Source: BC Hydro News