Great Mines Think Alike

Santiago, July 23 2012

The remote mining industry holds huge potential for the renewable energy and renewable water industry who fondly refer to their art as “Watergy”. SOLIDEA’s Watergy is an holistic modern economic approach to the combined energy, water and waste consumption of any installation an art that saves mine owners and operators money.

Good Watergy practice for remote mining project considers the full life cycle impact of the fuel, energy, water and waste design and both on and off the site. Watergy is a hot topic in the mining industry these days as public opinion, natural conservation and meeting tough new environmental requirements impacts project certainty even in the remotest locations.

Watergy is an ongoing science with managed goals and planned milestones. “Watergy looks to innovation to better itself, it saves money and it reduces integrated risks” says SOLIDEA’s Steve Walker, “Today Watergy is so critical to project certainty, to the environment and to increasing the bottom line profitability even long established ongoing mining missions are fast coming on board”

For remote mining operations new technologies are seldom incorporated into designs even if a solution is a well demonstrated, a clearly risk managed technique and well documented the mining industry tends to be considerably isolated in its view of innovation. “In remote mining operations new technologies are seldom incorporated but advancement does occur as systems wear out”, says SOLIDEA’s Steve Walker “This leads to incompatibility, risk and often concealed costs”.

The typical remote camp set up has two or more primary energy sources two or more diesel gen sets, behind these front line energy sources are critical and auxiliary back up often provided by several, smaller gen sets, inevitably then many smaller generators are added during the life cycle of the mine and for a variety of reasons.

Often the source of diesel is the same and on camp distribution makes auditing at best difficult. In any event the endless demand and logistics of transporting and storing diesel is a bane for remote mining and mining profitability from the first to the last day of the project.

SOLIDEA Group Advisory promote innovation, however favor most risk aversion and in recommending renewable energy in new camp design. “It is necessary to study each design detail however never in isolation, and to consider impact of energy, water and waste holistically in all four stages of design development” says Steve Walker.

Due diligence is the first stage, the design and the operation on site requires much study to understand and to see how designed systems work. It is critical to have everything working as it is designed, current and future defects need to be identified and corrected before any new or innovative recommendations for improvement or cost savings can be considered.

“It is not possible to quantify anything if it does not function as it is designed to” says Steve Walker ” First we identify obvious defects, having the project working as designed repaired, serviced or replaced”

Due diligence is a critical report of every aspect of energy, water and waste, for example how energy is consumed or distributed, how waste is generated its source and its disposal, how water is supplied and evacuated, how it is treated, and finally how it is used to dispose of waste.

Monitoring is the second stage and in any due diligence report SOLIDEA Group recommends the necessity of monitoring and how it is critical to understand how energy, waste and water is consumed and when. As SOLIDEA Group studies and design workshops readily demonstrate energy, water and waste impact each other, good Watergy strategy combined is significant it adds considerable sustainability to a project.

Monitoring can be divided into two categories [of function] for the value engineer to consider. Intuitive [function] where cost saving measures are universal and typical of many building installation and Process [function] cost saving these being indicative of a specific industry or native of the specific process of a specific remote mine.

A bell curve study shows how energy is consumed and when, what the peaks in supply are and where the most intuitive of cost savings can be made in any new design. Intelligent monitoring  provides the data for better energy planning and of course intuitive process value engineering.

Monitoring is a most important aspect of Watergy as it measures ongoing success and especially where intuitive cost savings could create a big bang for the buck. The capability behind these cost savings are transposed from the remote mining industry, generally and through general imported experience rather than originating from the local process knowledge.

Designed Savings occur as a result of studies; peak loads can be avoided by reducing the peak cycles, delaying or re scheduling certain tasks. A typical intuitive cost saving would be for example to avoid high cooling loads at midday with air handling units, this is best achieved with fixed or operational shading devices [or simply better orientation study early in the design]. Process cost savings can be engineered post study and when the intuitive engineering savings have been incorporated. Process cost savings are secondary to intuitive cost savings, obviously the priority is to avoid disruption to the mining process at hand.

After all possible cost savings have been made it is time to offset the remaining energy with renewable energy. There are five main forms of renewable energy, solar energy, geothermal, wind, renewable water and waste to energy [WtE].

Solar energy studies are very important for any location because solar is a very reliable source of energy, it is very clean and compact and despite common belief it is relatively predictable. Solar heat gains occur when the sun shines, as cooling demonstrates to be several times the cost of heating solar energy kicks in when peak demand occurs. So intuitive cost saving studies show that solar has a great impact in cold countries where high UV and intermittent cloud impacts building fabric and its control many times per day.

In hot humid climate where no clouds occur building fabric and control is subjected to a constant impact. Few projects understand solar energy and solar impact either above or below latitude 60; but getting solar right means impacting the top of the bell curve and a reduction in the intuitive peak load is inevitable anywhere in the world. Solar energy produces electricity through Photovoltaics and hot water by Solar Water heaters. Solar can also be used in the gray water process

Practically all lighting can be solar driven even in the most hostile of circumstances this means terrific cost savings for any project, lighting systems need remain on “local camp grid” and monitored and controlled to best take advantage of seasonal daylighting and spare energy. The average savings between HPS and LED and even technologies are up to 80% given that LED is controllable and HPS is not, working conditions, light pollution and extended life cycles are all value added and provide cost savings

Geothermal energy is well understood and has been an exploited energy form for more than two decades. Heat can be effectively extracted even from the most shallow of ground installations. The ground temperature and the air temperature difference produces energy from the heat differential.

Geothermal installations provide intuitive cost savings; but they can also extend working conditions thus adding process value below ground and cost savings over other technologies

Understanding Geothermal systems and their installation in cold and hot and especially extreme climates and in different ground conditions demonstrate to produce very reliable energy offset and cost savings full life cycle.

Small wind energy can be unobtrusive and sustainable in very hostile environments; small turbines maintain minimum energy requirements by example new vertical turbines in isolated locations can produce significant energy even at ground level.

Greywater recycling and renewable water are often attractive technologies for large remote camps in the mining industry where consumption of water is under scrutiny from conservation, often providing renewable drinking water such as SOLIDEA Airwell  is a value added necessity in dry and arid conditions. Typically 1000 liters a day installations of renewable pure water condensed drinking water from the atmosphere require 10kWe, low cycle vertical turbines are an excellent solution providing drinking water and recycled water reduces together energy costs and can reduce water consumption by over 60%

Waste to energy has a significant impact on cost because of the energy it produces and because of the cost savings in making sludge extinct using it as a gasification feedstock. Practically all packaging can become feedstock for gasification and careful detailed planning in supply would ensure that packaging is transported once only, Glass and metals can easily be separated for recycling but alternatives such as pet makes excellent feedstock for gassification and therefore packing is transported only once.

Human waste and food wastes are disposed of in water and are delivered to a settling tank, these wastes can be scooped and dried to produce feedstock for gasification. The combination of these feedstock can be easily calculated e.g. 1000 men produce a combination of 4 tons feedstock daily in the PowerCan® 200 The feedstock is made extinct in the SOLIDEA Group PowerCan® 200 MSW and H-WtE this in turn provides 200kWe and 260kWth of free energy

Combining cost saving and renewable energy solutions significantly reduces the energy consumption, full life cycle, renewable energy almost always demonstrates lower cost. SOLIDEA Groups PowerCan® 200’s are modular systems built into containers they are movable and can be redeployed on and off site plug and play.

PowerCan® 200 produces Syngas it converts it in a propane or diesel gen set, [propane is far less likely to freeze than diesel], producing CHP. A PowerCan® 200 FT consumes 4 tons of feedstock to produce as much as 1000 litres of syndiesel a day which could also be blended with regular diesel. PowerCan® 200 can run from a variety of feedstocks frozen or otherwise

Renewable energy is making in roads with the mining industry from South America to Canada and it is this rapid change in the America’s that is improving the environment and the profitability of mining projects everywhere.