The best instrument to get a rough measure of a mine’s energy appetite has to be the ear. The roaring fans, thundering mills, rumbling engines and regular blasts declare, loudly and clearly, how energy intensive these operations are.
It is why for the last four years, our March/April issue has been an ear to the ground of the energy landscape. We have examined Canadian energy resources such as uranium, coal and natural gas and their contribution to the global energy mix. We found operations in the far north and deep in the tropics that are beginning to generate more and more power from solar and wind alternatives. We talked to decision-makers who detailed the enormous impact energy prices particular jurisdictions have on the viability of a project.
While the centrepiece of this year’s energy issue is Graham Chandler’s look at the implications of a “clean energy” economy in “Fueling the future,” readers will find the buzz of energy runs throughout the editorial. Chandler’s piece focuses on the implications evolving environmental policy and technological advances will have on both established commodities essential to power generation and the minerals critical for the growth of alternative sources. Kelsey Rolfe connects with the operations team at Hecla Mining’s Casa Berardi mine to learn how waste from the local forestry industry is heating its buildings in Quebec’s Abitibi region. In our technology section, “Conversion story” by Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco highlights the inroads natural gas fuel systems are making in haul trucks. And in Ian Ewing’s profile of Torex Gold’s newly commissioned El Limón Guajes mine, the company explains how, through the adoption of conveying technology novel to the Americas, it has made the most of challenging topography to generate energy for the operation.
These are interesting energy times as fossil fuel prices and the cost of alternatives fall, at least in monetary terms, and the pricing of risk – be it environmental or supply – evolves. Ideally this issue will give some sense of how the future may look and sound.
Our better selves