Large machinery loading ore

Why be energy efficient?

Over the last 30 years, the average grade of mined Australian ore bodies has halved, while the waste removed to access the minerals has more than doubled.1 This has led to a 70% increase in energy consumption across mining operations.2 Energy costs currently constitute as much as 15% of total mining and mineral processing input costs.3 Energy consumption and intensity in mining and mineral processing is rising at around 6% per annum.45

Due to falling ore body concentrations, investment in energy efficiency opportunities will be increasingly important in managing operational costs. There is significant potential to reduce energy costs through an integrated approach to energy efficiency investment. Applying energy efficiency strategies to comminution, the largest area of energy usage, usually offers the best scope for the largest energy and cost savings. Energy is also used in blasting, drilling, dewatering and transporting of mineral ores away from the site. Other significant opportunities for energy savings exist in the areas of froth flotation separation, materials movement and ventilation.6

Recent Australian studies also suggest that energy savings per tonne of up to 50% below business as usual are practically feasible in the design of new mining and mineral processing developments.7


A range of opportunities are available in the mining and mineral processing sectors. These include opportunities in the following areas:

See all opportunities in Mining

Case studies

  • Case study: Iluka Resources Limited 2011
    • Department of Industry
    • PDF

    This case study presents Iluka Resources Limited’s successful adoption of the Energy-Mass-Balance (EMB) as the core method of energy analysis in its Synthetic Rutile facility in Iluka’s South West Operations, Western Australia. It discusses key aspects of Iluka’s experience, such as the EMB modelling approach, results achieved, lessons learned and the role the EMB will play in Iluka’s future energy improvement initiatives. This case study was developed as part of the Energy Efficiency Opportunities program.

  • Case study: Barrick Gold Corporation - Improving Energy Efficiency in Barrick Grinding Circuits 2011
    • Coalition for Eco-Efficient Comminution
    • Webpage

    Barrick has reduced comminution energy on 3 mine sites by a total of 5.3% reducing energy costs by $5.2 million per annum. This has been achieved through a variety of energy efficiency strategies including optimising feed size in crushing and grinding circuits.

  • Analyses of Diesel Use for Mine Haul and Transport Operations 2011 (Opens in a new window)

    This case study aims to provide mining companies with examples of comprehensive analyses of diesel use in mining operations used by Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, Downer EDI Mining Pty Ltd and Leighton Contractors Pty Limited. This case study was developed as part of the Energy Efficiency Opportunities program.

Key resources

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Footnotes ~ Show 7 footnotes

  1. Bye A (2011) Case Studies Demonstrating Value from Geometallurgy Initiatives. 1st International Geometallurgy Conference (GeoMet 2011) Note, payment is required to access this publication
  2. Sandu S and Syed A (2008) Trends in Energy Intensity in Australian Industry, ABARE, Canberra
  3. Syed A, Melanie J, Thorpe S & Penney K (2010) Australian Energy Projection to 2029-30, ABARE Research Report
  4. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (2010) End use energy intensity in the Australian economy ABARE Research Report
  5. Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (2010) Australian energy statistics, Table A1
  6. US Department of Energy (2007) Mining Industry Energy Bandwidth Study US DOE Industrial Technologies Program
  7. Pokrajcic Z, Morrison RD and Johnson NW (2009) Designing for a Reduced Carbon Footprint at Greenfield and Operating Comminution Plants. In Malhotra, D., Taylor, P.R., Spiller, E. and LeVier, M. (eds.) Proceedings of Mineral Processing Plant Design 2009 – An update Conference, Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, Tucson, Arizona, 30 September – 3 October 2009, pp. 560-570