mining industry Source: Google Images

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe has called on the mining industry to opt for energy efficient measures on their road to sustainability.

Radebe said this when he addressed the Investing in African Mining Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Wednesday. He was part of a discussion around the successful energy transition towards a low carbon future.

“[The] mining sector needs to review its energy consumption patterns to ensure that the sector de-carbonises, decentralises and digitalises. The decreasing costs of renewables, the proven reliability of hybrid power technologies are now driving the interest of mining companies in renewables.

“The energy transformation trajectory has to accommodate natural resources endowment, economic conditions and promote our natural competitive advantage as well as embracing new cleaner and sustainable energy technologies,” he said.

Radebe said the mining industry is a major consumer of energy and is responsible for more than 38% of the total industrial energy use, which translates into the consumption of 19% of coal and coal products, 5% of all gas products, and 2% of the global oil supply.

“In Southern Africa, the energy intensive users group alone consumes over 40% of electricity produced in South Africa. About 48% of the energy intensive users in South Africa are from the mining sector.

“Fossil fuels, coal in particular, continues to meet the world energy needs. Coal resources are able to meet the world energy needs and play a role in providing affordable energy access for the world’s poor mainly in developing regions such as Africa,” he said.

Radebe said South Africa has an abundance of coal resources, which plays a major role in the South African energy mix.

He said over 75% of energy used in South Africa is generated from coal.

The use of coal for energy generation is underpinned by availability, accessibility, reliability and affordability to South Africans.

“Given the need to increase energy supply in a globally carbon constrained environment, South Africa is investing in the development of clean coal technologies such as carbon capture and storage,  Coal Fluidized Bed Circulation combustion, integrated gasification combined-cycle plant, underground coal gasification and ultra-super critical technologies.

“Globally, the energy sector is undergoing a transformation driven by the need to decarbonise, decentralise and digitisation.”

Decarbonisation involves the shifting of generation, transmission, distribution and usage towards a lower carbon future. This is dominated by renewable energy, e-Mobility (electric vehicles), energy efficiency, new and future fuels (biofuels) and demand side management.

The Minister said it is estimated that between 2017 and 2025, 44% of global generating capacity will be from renewables and a total of 1,600 Giga watts of renewables capacity will be added to the sector.

Speaking ahead of Radebe, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said the mining industry is key to the stimulus and recovery plan announced by the President in September last year.

He said the finalisation of the Charter is expected to revitalise the industry, while charting a sustainable path towards a transformed and inclusive industry.

“As part of implementing the stimulus and recovery plan, government is also looking into administered prices, including rail, port and electricity prices. These have been cited by the investment community, including the mining industry, as prohibitive to doing business.”