Renewable Energy in the Minerals Sector: Assessing Opportunities for Africa

View of a floating solar plant of 256 photovoltaic panels installed on a floating platform on mine tailings of the mining company Anglo American in Colina some 35 km north of Santiago, Chile. Image: Getty, Martin Bernetti/AFP
View of a floating solar plant of 256 photovoltaic panels installed on a floating platform on mine tailings of the mining company Anglo American in Colina some 35 km north of Santiago, Chile. Image: Getty, Martin Bernetti/AFP

Renewable energy (RE) is becoming an increasingly visible component of the global energy supply mix.

Summary:

  • As input energy requirements in the mining sector increase to deal with decreasing ore grades, while commodity prices are trending downwards, energy innovation will be unavoidable. 
  • Renewable energy has gone from being a niche power source for small, remote mine sites to becoming one of the cheapest energy sources for large-scale mines, even when they are already grid connected. It is now a viable way of diversifying energy supplies and reducing price volatility. Renewable energy costs less than either grid or diesel power over a 20-year period and should be promoted as part of improving extraction efficiency in the minerals sector. 
  • Mining companies will be able to claim a leadership position in many countries as they transition to new energy sources. 
  • Tertiary educational institutions should develop renewable energy-focussed courses to provide the number of skilled technicians and engineers required to support the expansion of the renewable energy sector.
  • Renewable energy systems for community and/or utility use should be considered as part of post-mining planning – these systems represent a way of generating sustainable benefits for communities from degraded land.
14 Jul 2021
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Research by
Series
SAIIA Occasional Paper No 326, June 2021
Region
Middle East & North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa
SAIIA Programme
Governance of Africa’s Resources
Tags
Mining, Renewable energy
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