Energy Minister Jeff Radebe has urged the mining industry to adopt energy efficient activities on its journey towards sustainability.

Speaking at the Investing in African Mining Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Wednesday, Radebe said 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.

Heavily dependent on coal

As a major consumer of energy the mining industry 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.

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

Clean coal technology

“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.