Mining is important to Africa. In 2012, 10% of South Africa’s GDP was generated solely through the Mining Industry.

With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that major mining companies such as Ambatovy, Randgold Resources and Cummins Africa maintain a strong interest in Africa’s mining sector, despite having suffered from five-year lows in commodity prices.

As Investing in African Mining Indaba comes to a close on the 12th February, investors hold to a cautious yet optimistic outlook for Africa’s mining future.

South African Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi, who is attending Mining Indaba this year, commented; “South Africa is ready for investment, we are leaving no stone unturned in providing a stable environment for investment.”

Increasing requirements for infrastructure investment

The cost of mining operations is rising. There are several factors behind this, including environmental, political and logistical drivers.

The average length of time a single mining operation takes is escalating, and since the start of 2000, 75% of new base metal discoveries are hidden at depths of more than 300 meters (Deloitte).

In response, many mining companies have expanded to more remote regions in search of viable projects; increasing infrastructure and utility costs.

Speaking to Industrial Minerals (a global publication), numerous delegates at Mining Indaba this year have said;

“One of the major issues facing miners in South Africa is that of unreliable power supply.” (Fastmarkets IM)

The role of technology for providing reliable power supply and driving down costs

As companies push out into isolated regions, the necessity for standalone power generation becomes much greater. Consequently, improving the efficiency and productivity of self-sustained power generation facilities becomes a key aspect of mining operations.

Bowman Power Group’s Electric Turbo Compounding (ETC) technology is a proven solution for increasing genset efficiency by converting waste energy into electrical power. Together, Powertech System Integrators and Bowman Power Group are working to deploy ETC systems across Africa.

The ETC system enables end users to reduce fuel consumption by up to 7%, and produce fewer carbon emissions; or to increase the power output from a reciprocating genset, using the same amount of fuel.

For example, with the Bowman ETC system, the $1.8M fuel bill* for a typical 1MW Genset is reduced by $126K per year.

With a rapid payback period, reliable performance and environmental advantages, ETC technology offers clear benefits, and is ideal for African mining projects where reducing operational expenditure is a key objective.

Reliable sustainability seems set to play a large role in future mining developments within Africa. Mining Indaba’s large influx of vendors, investors and mining specialists, and the confident attitude held by many businesses within the sector, reveal the high potential to be found within the African mining industry.

*Based on the rate of $1 per litre of diesel fuel.