It started with a cup of coffee. James Myers, Energy Coordinator at Highland Valley Copper (HVC) in south-central British Columbia, was talking with a mining engineer and in the process, uncovered a major unrealized opportunity.
The Mining Engineering department had recently made a change to the mine plan that would save several million litres of diesel over a 10-year period. It got Myers thinking. Traditionally, HVC pursued energy and emission reductions directly with energy-focused projects. But since energy is tied so closely to every mining activity, shouldn’t nearly every effort to improve our mining business also produce an energy reduction?
“In past years, our energy reductions came from energy efficiency projects and involved a small number of people,” said James. “This year, most of our energy and GHG reductions came from reducing equipment wear, minimizing costs or increasing throughput without overloading equipment. By supporting efforts to improve our business, we reduced our energy use and GHG emissions.”
In 2017, James and his team identified 15 projects that will save 2.35 million litres of diesel, 9.1 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 7,445 tonnes of GHG emissions every year. This achieves approximately four times HVC’s annual energy and GHG emissions reduction targets. One of the projects was as simple as increasing the capacity of a crusher that was causing a backup of haul trucks. The trucks had sat idling, waiting for their turn to unload, or were diverted to a different crusher several kilometres away. By eliminating the bottleneck at the crusher, haul trucks were able to dump and get back to work quickly, saving HVC more than 900,000 litres of diesel per year.
In another project, density in six ball mills was increased, resulting in improved grinding, and aiding metal recovery, but with less energy. The control system is yet to be optimized but is already saving approximately 8.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
“Efficiency projects get harder to find with each passing year, but the ongoing effort of so many of our innovative and talented people never wears thin,” says Geoff Brick, General Manager, Highland Valley Copper. “Sustainability is critical to how we operate and drives our decision-making. It’s the right thing to do, and it also makes our business stronger.”
Sustainability by the numbers
- 15: The number of HVC projects identified as saving energy and reducing GHGs in 2017
- 2.35 million: Litres of diesel saved per year
- 9.1 million: Kilowatt hours of electricity saved per year
- 7,445 tonnes: The amount of GHG emission reductions per year