Mining industry leader believes meters can help manage emissions


Vale, the Brazilian mining and logistics company is betting on a smart energy management system to help the company manage production losses, identify potential points of failure and increase efficiencies.

According to a company release, in order to reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions, Vale will invest $4.9 million “into the implementation of a smart energy management system to improve equipment performance and process automation across its production chain – from mine to port.”

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Due to be installed by 2021, the SmartEnergy system will see 2,000 smart meters installed at “57 of the company’s operating units and large equipment in Brazil.” These meters will monitor voltage and current variations, and feed data into the Smart Energy system, allowing for the efficient management of power usage.

The purpose behind the installation is to help the company monitor power quality and identify a potential failure in the power supply.

A pilot project has already shown that the technology is capable of saving $22 million annually according to the company, as it eliminates “equipment shutdowns due to incorrect activation of the “electrical protective system”.”

The trial, conducted in 2017, enabled Vale to avoid 125 hours of unexpected production shutdown caused by power quality issues, across 2 sites.

Energy Efficiency Project Coordinator, Renato Arantes says: “Often, the electrical protective system shuts down important equipment or processes due to electric power fluctuations that could be tolerated without adding any risks to operations. These small interruptions affect productivity as energy is wasted in restarting the equipment and processes as well as resuming normal operating capacity, not to mention the impact on production and increased CO2 emissions.”

By standardising the data generated by the smart meters, SmartEnergy IT coordinator Laysa Mello, says the company will be able to undertake “better planning of energy consumption and demand in all operations, offering unprecedentedly higher data availability and accuracy.”

The off-the-shelf software has been customised for Vale’s needs and the company anticipates that it will save in excess of $225 million over the next 10 years and reduce GHG emissions by 120,000 t/y. The longer-term objective will be to reduce the usage of other fuels such as diesel or natural gas.

Vale has announced its intention to reduce and eventually neutralise CO2 emissions by 2050 in compliance with the Paris Agreement. in 2018, 28% of Vale’s power was provided by renewable energy sources, and 60% of all power produced is self-generated.