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What Role Do Diesel Generators Play in the Mining Industry?

What Role Do Diesel Generators Play in the Mining Industry?

11th Apr 2022

Australia’s mining industry is one of Australia’s largest sources of Commonwealth revenue into the economy.

Diesel generators are used in locations without connection to a power grid or as an emergency power supply if the grid fails. They are commonly used in military, commercial, construction, healthcare, manufacturing, data centres, healthcare and, of course, mining.

Here, we’ll discuss what role diesel generators play in the mining industry. 

Why are Diesel Generators Used in the Mining Industry?

Diesel fuel is a lot cheaper than petrol and has a low volatility rate, which means that it has less risk of ignition when compared to petrol. Diesel generators also require less maintenance, are rugged, and handle larger power loads. Without diesel generators, the cost of powering the mining industry would be a lot more expensive.

What to Look for in a Good Mining Generator?

When looking for a mining diesel generator, mining company management can consider a few different options. One option is to buy a diesel generator outright. This option will mean that all of the repairs, maintenance and general upkeep will fall back into the hands of the owner.

You can also rent a containerised diesel generator set up by qualified technicians that come with on-site training, customised solutions, and speedy delivery. The other benefits of renting a diesel generator are that the mining company can rent multiple generators at once depending on their power needs. They can be paired together through generator synchronisation or ‘load sharing’, allowing multiple generators to work in tandem with each other if they have an active power system. Some key factors to consider when looking at a diesel generator include:

  • Local regulations: check all local and state laws before investing in a generator.
  • Power needs: it’s essential to understand the amount of energy that will need to fuel your mine site.
  • Size of the machine: there is a multitude of different sized generators, e.g., Height, width, housing, weight. Depending on the location, the size of the site and transport of the generator will determine the size needed.
  • Weatherproof: due to the nature of mine sites, they usually experience all types of extreme weather conditions. To ensure the longevity of your machine, it needs to be weatherproof against dust, dirt, heavy water and wind.

What are the Disadvantages of Using Diesel Generators in the Mining Industry?

Whilst diesel generators are essential to the operation of a mining site. There are disadvantages to using a diesel generator on a long-term basis. These machines are hooked up to the central rigging systems on-site, so they are in operation daily. Diesel fuel is refined from crude oil and, when burned, produces many harmful emissions.

A diesel exhaust will emit over 40 toxic air contaminants, such as benzene, arsenic, and formaldehyde. These toxins contain harmful environmental pollutants, including nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxide is particularly potent as it traps heat in the atmosphere, approximately 300 times more than carbon dioxide. This extreme exposure to greenhouse gases damages crops, trees and other vegetation, leading to the contamination of water and food.

So, What Can Be Done to Limit the Effects of Mining in Australia?

Australia has a whole-economy plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. This is to protect the Australian wildlife and continue to boost the economy. As such, this means the major sectors within Australia have to start looking at alternative ways to maintain the longevity of these industries.As described in the Long Term Emissions Reduction Plan (2020), Australia has started to implement an approach to develop technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture storage units. For both adoption within Australia and overseas. Australia’s GDP per capita has increased 14% since 2005, and the emissions intensity of the economy has improved by 44%. Emissions intensity has been enhanced across major sectors, including:

“Our analysis shows most sectors, including mining and manufacturing, will continue to prosper in a low emissions global economy” - Angus Taylor, Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction

Introducing Renewable & Hybrid energy in the Mining Industry

With a diesel generator set running at these outputs, high fuel consumption levels lead to higher costs for the mine site. While diesel generators are not going anywhere anytime soon, a crucial area should spark debate for reconsidering energy sources of all mine sites in Australia. This includes the introduction of hybrid energy solutions, pairing renewable energy to diesel generators to power commercial, construction, industrial and mining sites.

Renewable energy has been shown to lessen climate change risks and is far more efficient in the long term than other energy sources. Australia commits to shift all energy consumption and creation to net-zero by 2050, meaning that all processes will be carbon-free.

A way for mining companies to adopt this energy transition is to investigate the use of energy storage systems (ESS) to distribute clean, efficient and environmentally sensitive power. These storage systems can be paired with diesel generators and electrical grids. An ESS reduces overall carbon emissions, fuel consumption and noise pollution by using OPzV and lithium-ion deep cycle batteries. These batteries last longer, are lightweight, temperature tolerant and provide constant power.

In a world where climate change continues to threaten the existence of the natural landscape, it is paramount for mining companies and sites to assess their overall Environmental impact. And look at the way they can implement energy-efficient alternatives to their operations.

Blue Diamond Machinery is Committed to a Renewable Future

We are committed to offering hybrid and renewable solutions with our diesel generator sets with a focus on sustainability. And our product range guarantees highly efficient, stable operation paired with secure and quality power. Our diesel generators are high-quality and provide reliable power to mine sites.

With over 30 years of industry experience, the team at Blue Diamond Machinery offers expert guidance for diesel generator requirements. We supply a range of solutions to support your mine site. From tier 4 diesel generators to hybrid solutions, hydrogen generators and energy storage units Australia-wide - Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

If you’re looking to rent, purchase or consider a diesel generator genset, our expert team are available for any questions concerning mining applications. Click here to get in contact today!