Game changer: Hybrid energy for mines

In an effort to develop energy self-reliance for mining operations, Colorado School of Mines Mining Engineering Professor Masami Nakagawa is leading a feasibility study for solar-wind hybrid power generation for the fourth largest silver mine in the world, Minera San Cristobal in Bolivia.

This project aims to provide sustainable hybrid power generation for the cafeteria and sleeping quarters of the Minera San Cristobal mine camp.

“This study can only supply about 1.5 megawatts of electricity -- a tiny fraction of the total energy needed for the big silver mine. What I am looking for is a ripple effect of this project to other mines to develop larger usage of renewable energy to power energy intense mining operations,” said Nakagawa, noting geothermal energy likely will stabilize complete needs by supplying base-load energy in the future.

Nakagawa, who has expertise in geothermal energy, teamed up with Mines Electrical Engineering Professor Marcelo Simoes and Kyle Bahr, a mining engineering PhD student at Mines, for a visit to the mine camp for site selection in January 2013.

“I see this project as a game-changer and I am grateful the management team of Minera San Cristobal is open-minded about sustainable mining operations and mining community development,” said Nakagawa, who is promoting a new idea in in sustainable development he is calling “Caring Energy” to empower communities.