May 2006

Sudbury energy workshop delivers power tools

By M. Bonsall

An energy management workshop, hosted last fall, lived up to its advance billing and advanced the cause of energy efficiency in Canada’s mining industry. The workshop, organized by the CIM Maintenance and Engineering Society and the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation at Natural Resources Canada, delivered on a promise to give participants the tools they need to transform how their operations manage energy.

“Being responsible for energy management without having the right tools is a recipe for failure. This workshop gave my whole energy team the tools and the confidence to get in the game,” said Wayne Schroeder, chief power engineer at Inco’s Thompson Manitoba mine.

Towards Greater Efficiency 2005: An Energy Management Workshop was held in Sudbury on October 20. Schroeder attended a similar workshop previously in Calgary and decided to attend again as a refresher course. But he says his main motivation was to expose his energy team to an excellent learning opportunity with a “CIM flavour.”

Simple yet powerful demonstrations, like pumping up a tube to show the relationship between the size of a hole in a pipeline and the amount of extra energy it consumes, gave Schroeder’s team engaging ways to encourage miners to spot and fix energy inefficiencies. Other tools included ways to enlist support for energy efficiency projects from senior executives.

“We were given workbooks and worksheets to collect and organize data. Now my team members know how to prove their energy efficiency arguments, how to present them, and how to ask for the money to execute them,” said Schroeder.

This sentiment is echoed by Dale Ekmark, general manager, Asset and Energy Management at Placer Dome.

“I have actually briefed the senior executives and am now rolling out some of the concepts to the country managers and individual mine sites globally.”

The workshop was led by Stephen Dixon, an energy efficiency consultant with over 20 years of experience gained during the course of more than 800 energy assessments and audits. He has led more than 300 Dollars to $ense workshops on behalf of NRCan.

Ekmark and his fellow participants identified a number of key points raised at the workshop:

  • A significant commitment is required to achieve meaningful energy efficiency goals. Passion and full-time leadership are also key.
  • Energy awareness should be put on the same level as safety awareness.
  • Serious employee involvement is a must.
  • Energy issues are usually not understood, so intensive education is required.
  • Many staff mistakenly assume that energy efficiency is too complicated and something best left to professionals.
  • There is usually a need to engage outside experts and coaches to overcome internal opposition or skepticism over projected financial savings.
  • Successful energy efficiency initiatives focus on the use and timing of energy consumption first, then on technology.
  • A significant, concentrated effort is required to initiate change and equally important is a significant ongoing effort to maintain energy efficiency programs.
  • Financial incentives, along with a solid business case, are critical for senior management and department-level buy-in.

The workshop was held in conjunction with the monthly meeting of the CIM Sudbury Branch and it provided excellent networking opportunities. For example, Schroeder learned about a joint NRCan-Mining Association of Canada pilot program that provides funding to hire a full-time energy efficiency coordinator.

“The workshop was a tremendous learning opportunity. I have attended workshops run by Stephen Dixon in the past, and he definitely lives up to his impressive reputation as a knowledgeable and practical facilitator,” said Mel Harju, a key workshop organizer and director of Energy and Membership for the CIM Maintenance and Engineering Society. “I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to offer a workshop of this caliber to our members.”

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