Part 2: Management-integrate energy efficiency into business systems

Key points:

  • Leading practice is achieved by embedding energy management into management systems to ensure that opportunities for improvement are exploited whenever key planning, procurement and operational decisions are made.
  • Both corporate and site-specific energy management plans are essential to ensure that opportunities are captured across mining operations.
  • Formalised management systems such as the ISO 50001 Energy management systems series may be pursued in some mining operations. However, it is important to ensure that there is a focus on performance as well as compliance.

Traditionally, energy management has focused on energy audits that are undertaken every few years. The main output from an energy audit is a report in which the estimated costs and benefits of potential energy-efficiency projects are outlined. While traditional energy audits are useful, there are some important imitations to this approach from an energy performance perspective. For example:

  • Decisions made in mine design, planning and procurement activities that potentially embed energy inefficiency into equipment are not typically captured by energy audits.
  • Ore quality changes, production schedules get modified, new equipment may be procured and there can be a high level of staff turnover. If energy audits are only undertaken ‘every few years’, opportunities to improve energy efficiency as things change will be lost.
  • A lack of clear action and tangible outcomes from an energy audit can create cynicism about the value of energy management and management’s commitment to improving energy performance.

Energy management systems address many of the limitations of an ‘energy audit only’ approach. This chapter outlines the essential components of energy management systems that are needed to deliver ongoing and effective improvement in energy performance, which are:

  • policies that establish management commitment
  • plans that are regularly updated and set out the actions, priorities and targets for energy management
  • an energy information system that supports the identification of opportunities and helps track and report on performance
  • management and staff accountability for energy management, including the use of energy management teams
  • assessment of opportunities in the design, planning and operational phases of mining operations.

The 2014 AS/NZS 3598 series of energy audit standards has been designed to consider the business context of the site and to contribute to improved energy management. Detailed industrial or transport fleet audits have detailed requirements that define the data collection, analysis and evaluation requirements of an audit to provide practical recommendations that facilitate project implementation. This includes external or internal auditors providing a draft list of opportunities to the mine site staff to agree on which opportunities are suitable for detailed investigation, and consideration of whether current design and configuration are appropriate to meet system needs. Financial analysis is undertaken as agreed with the mine site, and can be tailored to the company’s financial approval process for investments at a given level.

The energy audit standards have also been developed to be compatible with international energy management standards, and can augment the energy review process under ISO 50001. For multinationals, the AS/NZS 3598:2014 series may provide a more robust and consistent basis for mine site or transport fleet audits than equivalent international standards.

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