Assessment of water and energy efficiency at mining operations in Peru

Peru
Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), 2016 - 2017

In the Andes­­­­ - in particular for ore mining operations - which are located remotely and at high-altitudes, the continuous access to water and fuel for power generation is a prerequisite to operate. Their efficient use is crucial from an economical as well as environmental point of view and influences the social license to operate. By improving the water and energy efficiency, mining operations are able to minimise the running cost and to reduce the volume of (contaminated) waste water and CO2 emissions, which in turn reduces the environmental footprint of the operation and decreases the risk of severe conflicts with local agricultural communities in the long run.

In this context, Projekt-Consult’s experts were commissioned by the BGR with consultancy services regarding on-site assessments at selected mine sites in Peru with the objective to enhance resource efficiency in the mining sector of other Andean countries. The services delivered recommended appropriate means and measures to upgrade the efficiency of mining, processing and beneficiation in regard to the consumption of the resources water and energy and outlined best practice as encountered on the studied mine sites.

Due to the fact that an audit framework for the water and energy use in mining operations was not yet available or developed, the consultants compiled such a tool based on international literature review and enhanced by field research at mine sites. Instead of using energy and water benchmarks the tool focuses on operational practice and points out means requiring investment as well as upgrading the operation performance by good housekeeping measures. For the energy aspect all the different relevant energy sources have been addressed: electricity, heat, diesel, other fuels, compressed air/pneumatic energy, explosives, and human energy.

Three mining operations have been audited, all being primary underground gold mines in the Southern coastal and Sierra zone of Peru. The audits analysed the status-quo of the operations from extraction, local ore transport through to mineral concentration and refining, identified challenges and shortcomings with respect to the efficient use of water and energy, documented already established best practice and recommended measures to upgrade resources efficiency in medium and short term.