47 new green mining technology breakthroughs uncovered and profiled in “Emerging Green Mining Innovation,” a report published last September 2013 by Kachan & Co. Driven primarily by cost savings, mining companies are beginning to adopt new greener technologies. And that’s spawning a cottage industry of companies aimed at helping the mining industry clean up after hundreds of years of inefficiencies and waste, according to a new report released today.
Market volatility, rising costs, falling commodity prices, decreasing productivity, policy changes and social justice scrutiny are among the drivers of important new green innovation in mining technology, according to greentech analysis and consulting company Kachan & Co.’s latest report, titled Emerging Green Mining Innovation: Managing risk and profiting from new mining technology breakthroughs.
“Mining companies have been criticized for poor environmental practices, but few people realize there’s a large and growing set of companies around the world developing new technologies to help make mining more efficient, better for the planet and safer for workers and local communities,” said Kachan Associate Kathy Chen, primary author of the report. “Innovative technology companies are finding market opportunities in addressing the common criticisms of mining.”
The 52-page study defines a green mining technology taxonomy, and uncovers and profiles dozens of promising companies developing new green mining technologies. Sectors examined include power reduction (comminution efficiency, low power separation, hydrometallurgical processes, other alternative processes), fuel and maintenance reduction (equipment route optimization, fuel additives/filters, natural gas conversion, electric conversion, improved lubricants, polymers and coatings, training simulators, other fuel reduction approaches), toxicity reduction (bioleaching, bioremediation/phytoremediation, non-cyanide separation), emissions reduction (dust management, particulate sequestration, carbon sequestration), and water reduction (AMD/ARD remediation, water filtration/reuse, wastewater processing, tailings remediation and desalination).
“While requiring higher upfront capital expenditures, many of these new technologies reduce operation, closure and decommissioning and post-closure costs. Forward-thinking mining companies are incorporating some of these into operations and already realizing value,” said Kachan Managing Partner Dallas Kachan. “Mining companies can’t afford to continue using traditional processes if they want to continue operating competitively and in accordance with increasingly stringent regulations.”
Aside from their primary economic benefits, the report found green mining technologies can offer increased job satisfaction/HR value and mitigate social justice tensions. By reducing emissions and helping contain contaminants, they can also provide a safer working environment for miners. And these ‘softer’ benefits of green mining technology also help contribute to mining companies’ returns, according to the report.
From hundreds of green mining technology companies around the world, the report identifies and profiles 47 companies that Kachan believes stand the best chance of success. Among 22 recommendations made in the report for investors, entrepreneurs, mining companies, policy makers and service providers:
Mining companies should invest more in innovation – In 2012, investment in technology research & development by the mining industry was a mere 0.2% of revenue. Other industries invest as much as 30%. Ultimately, mining companies’ bottom lines are at risk, according to the report, which suggests companies boost their innovation-related spending significantly.
Policy makers should engage more with mining companies, as the objectives of both are more closely aligned than ever – Mining companies are beginning to adopt cleaner technologies to reduce costs and increase efficiencies. This aligns them with the goals of elected officials, many of which feel environmental pressure from constituents. Policymakers are encouraged in the report to use the opportunity to open up better dialogue with mining companies to explore ways to increase returns for their shareholders and make voters happy.
Governments should support green mining innovation, but not using taxpayer funds – The report encourages policymakers to consider implementing tax credits to foster green mining, or mandates and standards similar to the U.S. renewable portfolio or renewable fuel standards in the energy industries, and avoid instruments like loans or loan guarantees that would put policymakers in the position of having to play venture capitalist and pick technology winners.
Service providers should look in unexpected places for innovation – The report notes that new green mining technology innovation is often coming from smaller companies. While smaller companies aren’t always able to pay large professional services invoices, the best may become larger, successful companies that can pay large invoices, the report advises service providers.
The Kachan green mining innovation report is available for purchase and immediate download at http://www.kachan.com/report/green-mining. It is intended for companies across the mining value chain, from small technology developers to large multinationals, investors seeking disruptive innovation, service providers seeking promising mining companies as clients, as well as policy makers and others.