Mining is an energy-intensive business. From blasting and hauling to crushing and processing, energy is used at every stage of the mining process and represents a significant portion of our overall costs.
We also understand the important link between energy use and climate change. Barrick considers climate change to be a company, community, and global concern. By effectively managing our energy use, we are able to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, achieve more efficient production, reduce our draw from local energy grids and save a significant proportion of our direct mining costs. Managing our energy use is therefore a business imperative.
Conservation, energy efficiency and alternative energy sources form our core energy strategies. Barrick’s Energy Management Policy establishes requirements for the effective administration and control of all energy sources (fuel, power, explosives) used by the company. Throughout the mining process, our approach to managing energy use and climate change is informed by our Environmental Management System and associated Standards.
In 2014, Barrick developed a five-year energy plan with the goal of reducing energy costs by at least 10 percent.
To accomplish this, the company is exploring a range of energy initiatives for the short, medium, and long term, including fuel substitution, renewable energy opportunities, lighting upgrades (such as moving to LEDs), the use of variable-frequency drives (VFDs), energy contracts, ore movement options, compressed air, smart grids and waste heat recovery.
In addition to these initiatives, Barrick has implemented a Monthly Energy Reporting System (available to all staff via Barrick’s intranet) that provides detailed insights into our energy usage, costs, areas of opportunity, key KPIs and the ability to track and validate energy savings.
Over the past several years, all of our operations have conducted energy self-assessments to identify areas for improvement in energy efficiency and conservation. We have identified a wide variety of opportunities that range from increased energy awareness education, to improved ventilation fan monitoring, to enhanced fuel-management programs.
Many of the opportunities that have been identified will be able to be implemented without additional capital. For example, Barrick has begun negotiating non-capital-based strategies and entering partnerships that will allow us to use the energy savings stream from a project to finance the project. This will reduce the need for capital, expedite the implementation of projects, provide new resources and increase the number of projects that can be implemented to reduce energy costs and GHG emissions.
Fuel switching is another strategy we are exploring that will enable a site to reduce costs with little to no capital investment. For example, the Quisqueya I power plant, at the Pueblo Viejo mine in the Dominican Republic, is a dual-fuel system that can operate on heavy fuel oil, diesel, biofuels or natural gas. We are currently evaluating a switch from heavy fuel oil to liquid natural gas which would reduce operating cost while lowering our GHG emissions.
Similar efforts are being made in regard to switching haul trucks from diesel to natural gas (liquid natural gas (LNG) or high density compressed natural gas (HDCNG) at our Nevada operations to reduce operating costs, and GHG and particulate matter emissions.
Detailed Energy Workshops held at our mine sites have identified and quantified many new opportunities ranging from LED lighting, variable frequency drives and compressor plant improvements to heat recovery for power production, renewable opportunities and improved material movement systems.
In the long term, we are looking for opportunities to develop energy efficient, “low-carbon” mines, which can similarly drive down costs and emissions. For example, current diesel haul truck technology for moving materials has a high-energy intensity compared to electric-based options like conveyors and rail (up to 75 percent in potential energy savings). Electric-based material movement opportunities also open up new renewable energy and regeneration-based complementary strategies as well.
Our vision is the generation of wealth through responsible mining — wealth for our owners, our people, and the countries and communities with which we partner.
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