- avril 24, 2023
- Envoyé par : convint
- Catégorie: blog
The mining sector plays a crucial role in the economy of Ghana, accounting for a significant portion of the country’s GDP. However, the mining industry is also a major consumer of energy, and this has implications for the environment and the cost of production. To address this challenge, there has been a growing interest in the use of solar energy to power mining operations. In this article, we will explore the energy consumption of the mining sector in Ghana and how solarization can help reduce it.
Energy consumption in the mining sector in Ghana
Mining operations require significant amounts of energy to power the various processes involved, such as drilling, blasting, crushing, and grinding. This energy is typically obtained from fossil fuels such as diesel, which is expensive and has a significant impact on the environment. In Ghana, the mining sector is the largest consumer of electricity, accounting for approximately 25% of the country’s total electricity consumption.
The high energy consumption of the mining sector has several implications. Firstly, it leads to high production costs, which can impact the profitability of mining operations. Secondly, it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which have negative impacts on the environment and human health. Finally, the reliance on fossil fuels makes mining operations vulnerable to price volatility and supply disruptions.
The potential of solarization in Ghana’s mining sector
One solution to the energy challenge faced by the mining sector in Ghana is the use of solar energy. Ghana has abundant solar resources, with an average of 5.5 kWh/m2 of solar irradiance per day. This makes it an ideal location for solar power generation, and several mining companies in the country have already started exploring this option.
Solar energy can be used to power a range of mining processes, including lighting, ventilation, and water pumping. Solar photovoltaic (PV) systems can be installed on the rooftops of mining buildings or on the ground near the mining site. These systems can generate electricity during the day, which can be stored in batteries for use at night or during periods of low solar irradiance.
The use of solar energy in mining operations has several benefits. Firstly, it can reduce the cost of energy, which can improve the profitability of mining operations. Secondly, it can reduce the reliance on fossil fuels, which can help to mitigate the environmental impact of mining activities. Finally, it can provide a reliable source of energy, reducing the risk of supply disruptions.
Case study: Solarization in the mining sector in Ghana
Several mining companies in Ghana have already started exploring the use of solar energy to power their operations. For example, in 2018, Newmont Ghana, a leading mining company in the country, installed a 1 MW solar plant at its Ahafo mine. The plant consists of 4,032 solar panels and is expected to generate approximately 1.6 GWh of electricity per year. This is expected to reduce the mine’s annual carbon emissions by approximately 1,300 tonnes.
Another example is Golden Star Resources, which has installed a 5.5 MW solar power plant at its Wassa mine. The plant consists of 16,420 solar panels and is expected to generate approximately 10 GWh of electricity per year. This is expected to reduce the mine’s annual carbon emissions by approximately 7,500 tonnes.
Applying the same approach to the Artisanal Small Mines (ASM) sector in Ghana could also help address their energy challenge. ASM activities typically rely on diesel generators to power their operations, which are expensive and emit harmful pollutants. As Ghana has abundant solar resources, ASM operators can explore the use of solar energy as an alternative source of power.
Moreover, the use of solar energy can help to mitigate the environmental impact of ASM activities, as it reduces the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Additionally, solar power can provide a reliable source of energy, reducing the risk of supply disruptions that can hamper ASM operations.
Overall, the adoption of solar energy in the ASM sector can bring several benefits, including reduced energy costs, mitigated environmental impact, Job creation (bringing the deployment of formal jobs accompanied by the creation of small electricity distribution companies) as well as improved operational reliability. In addition Regulators will have more power to manage the mining concessions with a strong control of the application of environmental, safety and security obligations. A phased approach to implementation will ensure a successful transition to cleaner and safer mining practices. Thus, ASM operators in Ghana can explore the use of solar energy as a viable option for powering their mining activities.
The mining sector in Ghana is a major consumer of energy, and this has implications for the environment and the cost of production. The use of solar energy to power mining operations has the potential to address these challenges by reducing the cost of energy, mitigating the environmental impact of mining activities, and providing a reliable source of energy. Several mining companies in Ghana have already started exploring this option, and it is expected that more will follow in the future.
For Convengence SAS
with the support of Jean-Louis GAILLARD, VP ACP ENergies