The Electric Mine Consortium (EMC) – made up of IGO, South32, Gold Fields, Iluka and a total of 22 major industry players – has launched an Energy Storage Challenge in a bid to establish zero carbon mine sites.
While renewable energy technology is becoming mature, the long duration energy storage technologies required to smooth its variability are largely not proven at the scale required in mining.
The ability to store and dispatch vast amounts of intermittent renewable energy, such as wind and solar, is important for the mining industry’s transition to zero carbon emissions.
Reliable energy storage will be crucial for the 35 per cent of Australian mines that are off-grid.
The EMC estimates that the energy storage needs of Australian off-grid miners in 2030 will be over 300x the globally installed capacity today (not including hydro).
The EMC’s Energy Storage Challenge covers a range of storage needs from 50MWh at Goldfield’s Agnew mine to the needs at South32’s Worsley Alumina site. It will canvass a range of technologies, such as thermal, electric, gravity and chemical.
EMC director Graeme Stanway said, “Finding a scalable solution for long-duration energy storage will fast-track the decarbonisation of mine operations by making the eradication of scope 2 emissions possible.”
The need for mine sites to fully electrify is approaching consensus but technology uncertainty remains a significant challenge.
“This is the first time the mining industry is collectively signaling its need for large-scale energy storage, providing OEMs with a clear demand signal to encourage the investments required,” Mr Stanway said.
IGO’s Carolyn Hartmann said, “Long duration energy storage has the power to transform Australia’s mining microgrid landscape. Once commercialisation is realised LDES will add value to future and existing renewable energy projects alike, by capturing excess energy that is currently wasted.”
A key aim of the EMC is to resolve technology choices and shape suppliers, by communicating needs and influencing product development.
Last month they also released a Surface Long Haul EV Challenge, calling out to any parties with a potential solution for surface long haulage in mining.