With so little in terms of positive mining developments since the industry went on a cost-cutting spree post-2011, it can feel as if any news are great news. Yet the latest gold mining trend surrounding Gold Fields’ mine in Australia go past discovering new ore or opening a new spot, and have to do with innovations in an industry sometimes considered stagnant.
Gold Fields is one of the largest gold producers in the world, with a total of nine mines spread across Australia, Peru, South Africa and West Africa and Chile. Its Agnew gold mine in Australia is now the testing grounds for the largest hybrid renewable microgrid in the country.
The Agnew gold mine is the first gold mine in the country to be powered primarily by wind-generated energy, as part of an ongoing bid to utilize renewable energy sources on a global scale. The venture was funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which gave $13.5 million through its Advancing Renewables Program.
The microgrid itself is constructed, powered and maintained by global energy producer EDL. In a press release, the company shared some specifics pertaining to the microgrid, revealing that it amounts to 56MW, 50%-60% of which come frome renewable sources. According to the press release, weather conditions can bring the percentage up to 85.
CEO James Harman boasted that the mine is a showcase of both engineering prowess and persistence, as the project was launched amid bushfires, supply chain disruptions and a global crisis that saw the mining industry come under even more setbacks. Furthermore, while wind is the primary one, the CEO stated that the project utilizes as many as five different sources of renewable energy.
Stuart Mathews, Gold Fields Executive Vice President for Australasia, also said that the company is proud to partner with EDL in such a manner, underscoring that both the construction and operation of the project went well. As it stands now, EDL owns close to 100 renewable energy stations that span throughout Australia, North America and Europe.
While not explicitly stating that the technology would be utilized in its other mines, Mathews noted that the Agnew mine has provided the company with a framework on how to utilize renewable energy in its operations worldwide. Having the gold mining industry act as the center of renewable energy innovations during a time of peak appetite for these solutions is indeed promising. Perhaps the success of the Agnew gold mine and its renewable microgrid can bring some welcome sparks to the sector.