The Mining and Technology Industries as Catalysts for Sustainable Energy Development
The potential for mining companies to contribute to sustainable energy development is characterized in terms of opportunities for energy efficiency and support of electricity access in mining-intensive developing countries. Through a case study of the Central African Copperbelt countries of Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, energy efficiency opportunities in copper operations and environmental impact of metal extraction are evaluated qualitatively, characterized, and quantified using principles of industrial ecology, life cycle assessment, and engineering economics. In these countries the mining sector is the greatest consumer of electricity, accounting for about 53.6% in the region. Energy efficiency improvements in the refinery processes is shown to have a factor of two improvement potential. Further, four strategies are identified by which the mining and technology industries can enhance sustainable electricity generation capacity: energy efficiency; use of solar and other renewable resources; share expertise from the mining and technology industries within the region; and take advantage of the abundant cobalt and other raw materials to initiate value-added manufacturing.