Sunshine for Mines
We are reinventing energy value by developing strategies to turn low-carbon energy technologies into viable decarbonization solutions for the mining industry.
What Is Sunshine for Mines?
Sunshine for Mines (SFM) focuses RMI’s capabilities on bringing energy and carbon-driven solutions to the mining industry, identifying viable decarbonization pathways, and collaborating with industry experts to eliminate market barriers to technology development and adoption.
Why It Matters
Mining and resource extraction is an energy-intensive industry, contributing almost 2% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The mining industry is beginning to recognize the urgency of climate change, but more dramatic action is needed.
What We’re Doing
Sunshine for Mines has partnered with mining companies and organizations to provide assistance with renewable energy integration, zero-carbon hauling, and process innovation.
WHAT WE’VE ACCOMPLISHED
In 2017, the Sunshine for Mines team at Rocky Mountain Institute worked with the multinational mining company BHP on an energy and sustainability analysis of BHP's North American portfolio of 22 legacy mines. The goal of this analysis was to identify a ranking of the best potential sites for redevelopment into grid-scale renewable energy generating assets. As a result, the team identified over 500 MW of potential new capacity build. Sunshine for Mines' analysis considered both commercially established technologies like solar PV, wind energy, pumped hydro, and lithium-ion battery storage, as well as innovative options including electricity generation from shaft airflow and flywheel batteries. Sunshine for Mines continues to work with BHP on developing the top-ranked sites and advising on project pipeline life cycle from design to commercialization.
Latest Insight Brief in partnership with BHP: A Second Life for Legacy Mines
RMI were asked by Anglo American to take part in their FutureSmartTM Energy Open Forum in 2016. As part of the stimulus ahead of the ideation sessions, RMI developed a conceptual solution for a zero-carbon, off-grid Tier 1 production copper mine. Considering a number of renewable options, the study demonstrated clearly the current economic limits of renewable power as a viable power option for a large-scale operating mine and succeeded in its objective of stimulating valuable discussion on the use of renewables in the mining industry.
In 2018, RMI completed a study on the financial and carbon impacts of alternative fuels and transportation methods relative to Anglo American’s current diesel-based haul fleet. The project showed the potential to reduce GHG emissions for new mines through integrating nontrucking solutions, like trolleys and in-pit crushing and conveying, and for active mines through switching to alternative fuels such as biodiesel or liquid natural gas.
In 2015, Gold Fields engaged with RMI’s Sunshine for Mines team to undertake a company-wide energy security plan review and then to design and develop a renewable energy solution for South Deep. Sunshine for Mines delivered a solution comprised of 40 MW of solar PV with up to 7.5 MWh of storage, which is competitive with grid energy costs, enhances the reliability of supply, and has a positive benefit-to-cost ratio. Sunshine for Mines served as an advisor and knowledge partner throughout the review, design and procurement process.
- Gold Fields & RMI: Integrating Solar Power into Gold Fields’ South Deep Mine, Energy & Mines, January 2016
- Gold Fields: The Role of Alternative Energy in Addressing Mining's Energy Challenges: Our Experience, Energy & Mines, November 2016
- Gold Fields: 2016 Annual Report
- RMI's Sunshine for Mines: Gold Fields Case Study
Photovoltaic Solar Array In Rosamond, California
Renewable Resources at Mines Tracker
RMI’s Renewable Resources at Mines tracker (R2M) provides sourced data on renewable energy projects sited at mines, either active or legacy, as well as projects owned by mining companies. All data collected is publicly available and includes both commissioned and announced projects.
Thomas Koch Blank
Director of Mining Program
Paolo Natali, Ph.D.
Director of Mining Projects
Annabelle Lee Sullivan
From the planning stage through the RFP process, Rocky Mountain Institute’s Sunshine for Mines program was a valuable strategic advisor and knowledge partner as we sought leading-edge energy solutions.
‐Tsakani Mthombeni, Global Head of Carbon & Energy, Gold Fields