Many of mining’s boldest ‘futurists’ still can’t bring themselves to imagine a future mine – surface or underground – without trucks and diggers/loaders. And the processing plants all look familiar, too. The big difference is electrification. The real question, says ABB’s Nik Gresshoff, is where the heck is all that power going to come from?
Electrifying mine sites via public grids or microgrids is already tricky, given available equipment, battery and storage technology, and embedded infra-structures and strictures in many major mining areas.
Subtract coal-fired generation – and maybe gas in some places! - and add more renewables, and as countries such as Australia gear up to feed new (potential) domestic, North American and European electric-vehicle and renewable energy supply chains, and the investment required to plug mines and downstream plants into reliable, reasonably-priced power starts to head off the charts, the availability question seems likely to become more vexing in board rooms.