New Technology Case Study
Australia is a top 5 producer of base metals (Source: USGS) such as zinc, nickel, gold, uranium and silver. To extract these minerals, mining operations typically require 10 to 50 megawatts of base load electricity for several years to operate the mining plant and equipment at ideal capacity. Remote area mines without access to base load energy infrastructure such as a high voltage transmission network or a gas pipeline have few options beyond distillate (ie. diesel) fuelled power plants to generate their base load electricity requirements. Consequently, large mineral deposits are either un-realised or under-realised due to the financial and operational limitations inherent in the use of large scale distillate power plants in remote areas.
This case study examines 2 emerging technologies that may circumvent remote area fuel supply issues while still providing robust base load electricity at a discount to current large scale diesel generators. The new technologies examined are; small nuclear power plants, and; solar photovoltaic’s with grid storage. Each technology has its challenges and sit at opposite ends of the social and political debate for new energy solutions however the unique characteristics of remote mining operations may change the materiality of traditional objections and limitations of each technology.