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Sustainable approach to energy consumption and supply in mining and processing: A case study in Namibia’s Skorpion Zinc Mines

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2018, Vol. 344, No. 1, pp. 1-6

Nolten, N.; Hollenberg, T.



The mining industry is one of the major energy consumers in Namibia. Energy costs increase the operating costs of Namibian mines, in particular, the processing plants, and result in an overall increase of production costs. A substantial part of the energy used is directly imported from South Africa. The cost of energy has been increasing rapidly in the past few years and will most likely continue to do so in the future. In 2015, the average wholesale price for energy from national power utility NamPower was US$87/MWh after rising more than 12 percent annually in the two previous years. At peak times, which are early in the morning and late in the evening, imported-energy prices are extremely high and have to be factored into the electricity tariffs. This problem is expected to intensify due to a projected 4 percent annual increase in energy demand. A major target of the Namibian mines, therefore, is to consider possible ways to address energy-saving challenges and to investigate possibilities for the mines to generate electricity internally during peak times. This is in alignment with the mines’ strategic plans and objectives to reduce total energy consumption and costs from both national and foreign electricity suppliers. In this paper, we explore addressing some of the key energy consumption and optimization challenges through process energy reuse and solar energy production to decrease demand for imported energy through a case study carried out in cooperation with Skorpion Zinc Mine and Refinery.