Power is the enabler

18 MW Mining Africa AircraftNicolas Kuhn, business development director of Altaaqa Global Energy Services, discusses the operational, logistical, and financial merits of having a dedicated turnkey power supply, and sheds light on the roadmap ahead of hybrid power plants for mines

Mining is a power intensive industry, characterised by ever changing requirements on the power infrastructure during the life cycle of a mine. We work within these power needs, as well as emerging requirements for greener solutions. 

One of the structures we use to support mining companies, juniors as well as majors, is a fit-for-purpose approach, both from a technological and financial perspective. For instance, our plants are set up in modules, thus enabling mining companies to invest in a phased approach and manage upfront cost.

The case of a mine in Africa

We have a client, an international mining company, who operates a gold mine in Africa. They had the mandate to increase production levels to enhance the profitability of the mine. Naturally, ramping up productive activities would require power that is reliable and sufficient to support all the extraction and associated processes involved.

However, power from the grid, the mine’s primary source, was not always available nor sufficient to sustain all the activities. There had been several instances of power insufficiency that had affected the mine’s daily output levels. This had cause delays in the mine’s operations as the facilities needed time to restart after the blackout.

Therefore, the mine immediately needed to have a dedicated power plant suited to their requirement to implement the increase in production, and avoid the operational complications related to the instability of power supply in the remote area. 

Due to the urgent nature of the project, we had to elaborate a plan that would allow us to deliver the equipment and mobilise the manpower in the fastest possible time.

We arranged an emergency airlift to site, transporting personnel and 590 tons of materials in 10 days. We successfully installed a turn-key plant powering the entire mine with some redundancy within this short lead time. We are operating and managing the power plant 24/7 with our in-house engineers and local technicians, ensuring its efficiency and safety. 

Our plant runs on fuel-efficient and low-emission modules. This has equated to ‘0’ downtime and record production levels for the mine.

On energy transition and integration

The market is accelerating the transition towards hybridisation, which means in certain cases combining existing power plants, with PV or other renewable power solutions within one seamless system. 

As the system integrators, we work on solutions which comprise a complete system, using our expertise and working knowledge. 

The integration of the various power sources can help avoid operational and logistical risks to site operations. These evolutions in the power mix can enable mines to achieve the goals of reducing their emissions levels, generating at a lower cost of electricity, and also achieve certain ESG targets.

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