We will provide green solutions that are economically competitive and with a guarantee of operational continuity.
How have Gasco’s energy solutions evolved and how can alternative energy be applied to mining?
One of the biggest challenges is how to replace diesel and oil. On this journey, Gasco started with liquified natural gas (LNG), as it is a cleaner fuel with competitive prices, and we have also started working with alternative solutions such as solar. Something interesting we have developed in other industries which could make a big impact in mining is waste energy recovery. Mining companies have a large accumulation of waste, such as wood pallets, that we can combust in an environmentally friendly way to avoid being disposed or transported. We can also work with food waste that through anaerobic processes can be treated and returned as an odorless fertilizer and biogas. The latter, in combination with LNG or LPG, can supply the entire demand of hot water for a mining camp. We also supply LNG or LPG motors that generate power more environmentally and cheaply than traditional generators.
Another important energy development is the rise of hydrogen; we have been taking part in the HIF (Highly Innovative Fuels) project in Magallanes, which will produce hydrogen derivate fuels such as eGLP, a green, renewable fuel; and dimethyl ether, another renewable fuel. These initiatives are aimed at providing more sustainability to the country’s power supply in the north, specifically for mining.
Can you give a case study example of Gasco’s work with a mining company on renewables?
We are working on a project to provide processes with hot water from solar power to supply approximately 80% of the total needed, thus replacing a significant amount of diesel and achieving both strong economic and environmental savings. It will also aid in operational continuity by not depending on bringing trucks to the mine.
Considering how energy prices are rising globally, how can Chile guarantee steady power supply?
We believe that before going into power generation we should dig into processes to improve energy use. That is why our first approach is power efficiency and monitoring how energy is used and managed. After that, we have to see how Chile, that today is a net importer of fuels, could reach a higher power independency. We think that solar energy presents the best opportunity. Solar, in addition to advancing energization of waste, could generate not only an independence for prices but also on transportation through electric networks. That is how Chile can reach power self-sufficiency.
Throughout history, Gasco has been a pioneer in showing it is feasible to take more sustainable paths. For example, in the south of Chile we began replacing firewood with the efficiency of liquified gas, integrating supply from Argentina. In the north, we believe that these thermo-solar projects will set the example that it is possible to reduce the dependence of fuel imports, be more friendly with the environment and save money. This is all considering the compliance with the law of power efficiency. Because even if solar power is free, harnessing it requires an investment, and in the measure we reduce power consumption, that investment return will increase.
What are Gasco's objectives with regard to Chile’s mining sector in the years to come, and do you have a final message for the Chilean mining community?
We are currently present in a few mining projects and processes, but we want to change that by taking part in the most important projects with a wider scope. Within that, it is important to think of renewable energies and energy efficiency, but always grounding this with a guarantee of operational continuity. We have no worries there because we can always count on liquified and natural gas for these processes, which are cleaner than diesel.
Gasco is a company that has earned its name in Chile. From mining companies we only ask that they give us the chance to implement these solutions that already operate in different parts of the world, and trust we will provide green solutions that are economically competitive and with a guarantee of operational continuity.