Optimised underground ventilation system reduces energy consumption and emissions

Barrick’s goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030 from a 2016 baseline. Currently, 36% of the Barrick’s electricity comes from renewable sources. It is deploying a number of initiatives to reduce overall GHG levels, including the evaluation of moving to a lower emission fuel at its power plant in the Dominican Republic and designing future mines to include electric and automatic equipment.

The business impact of the reduction in energy demand, consumption and GHG emissions is evident at Barrick’s Hemlo mine in Canada. Hemlo developed a site-wide ventilation management programme to facilitate continuous improvement and spur innovation in technology, people and systems. As a result, Hemlo was able to drive down energy consumption and GHG emissions by optimising its underground ventilation system. It implemented ventilation on demand (VOD) in targeted areas of the mine and fans without VOD were managed exclusively by trained personnel.

Hemlo also reduced heating costs by taking advantage of the mine’s naturally-occurring geothermal properties. The mine was able to draw fresh air via the stopes in old mining areas to create an air supply that did not need heating in winter, whereas in summer, ice stopes cooled the air. Energy consumption as measured by ventilation per tonne of ore fell from 96.7 kilowatt hours per tonne (kWh/t) in 2013 to 86.1kWh/t in 2015; a reduction of 24% in GHG emissions and a decrease of 10% in energy consumption over two years.

In recognition of this innovative approach to conserving energy, in 2016 Canada’s Department of Natural Resources awarded Hemlo the ‘Process and Technology Improvement Award.’

Since 2016, mining operations at Hemlo have expanded but the mine has been able to maintain similar levels of energy intensity, demonstrating the enduring impact of these innovative solutions.