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. 

This has led to large increases in energy consumption across mining operations. Energy costs currently constitute as much as 15% of total mining and mineral processing input costs. Energy consumption and intensity in mining and mineral processing is rising at around 6% per annum.

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.

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.

Ways to save

See ways to save in Mining

Case studies

Case study: Iluka Resources Limited 2011

Department of the Environment and Energy 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 three 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)

Department of the Environment and Energy PDF 1MB

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.