Driven from the top

The Renewables and Mining Summit, held June 23-24 at the Hilton Sandton in Johannesburg, brought together energy decision-makers from African mines and renewable energy experts to explore solutions for addressing the energy challenges of remote and grid-tied mining operations. One of the case studies presented at this event reviewed Gold Fields' Energy Management and Carbon Reduction strategies.

Energy is an increasingly pressing concern because the challenges for mining companies are growing, says Martin Sprott, Principal at A. T. Kearney, which has been working with Gold Fields on revising baselines and targets that were developed as part of its existing integrated energy and carbon management strategy in 2012. “Mining companies have exhausted many of the easy to reach ore bodies and so they’re going into more remote, deeper, and often riskier, places."

Costs are another challenge. “Energy costs are a key driver for us given that energy accounts for about 18% of our operational cost base and this is likely to rise in a global context of increasing energy demand and constraints on supply,” says Stevens. He added that “although the unbundling of our mature underground mines in South Africa has considerably reduced our energy intensity, this remains a key area of focus in terms of controlling not only our costs, but also our carbon emissions.” He says that the company is trying to implement as many energy-efficiency projects as are feasible.To understand the full cost equation, Gold Fields looks at LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) for a given power plant. To do this, the company estimates the total lifetime of ownership and then assesses capital and construction costs. Next, the company considers the cost of power generation, any revenue inflows, and which financial models will be used.

Read the full Gold Fields' Case study here.