'Working together to promote premier, multi-disciplinary research and development in the area of minerals beneficiation'

Oliver Johnston

MSc (Eng) Project title
A framework for evaluating energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions within South Africa’s mineral industry
(Supervisors: Dr B Cohen, Dr J Broadhurst)
Graduated: 2012

The threat of climate change, energy shortages and the reliance on coal-fired energy as the primary source of electricity makes it critical to improve the energy efficiency of South Africa’s more energy intensive industries, which includes the mineral industry. The depletion of a number of the best mineral deposits and the resulting increase in mining depth and decrease in ore-grade being mined, make improving the energy efficiency of South Arica’s gold sub-sector particularly challenging. This project aimed to identify and evaluate the potential opportunities that exist for the reduction of energy and climate footprints in South Africa’s gold industry sub-sector. The case study of the gold sub-sector was carried out in two parts: a desktop study of South Africa’s three biggest gold mining companies namely: AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields and Harmony gold, followed by an interview and survey investigation with external consultants and in-house company representatives.

This study revealed that organisations within South Africa’s gold industry are taking the issue of energy efficiency seriously; this focus on energy efficiency within their organizations is predominately due to the increasing cost of electricity and the issues around energy security. The level of focus on energy efficiency within the industry is expected to rise with the rising price of electricity. Greenhouse gas emissions are not given anywhere near the attention that energy efficiency is given, with current greenhouse gas emissions savings typically just a spin off from energy saving projects.

Research Outputs
Research dissertation

Johnston O. 2012. Analysis of energy efficiency in South Africa’s primary mineral industry: A focus on gold, Masters dissertation, University of Cape Town

Oral conference presentations
Johnston, O., Cohen, B. and Broadhurst, J. (2011) Analysis of energy efficiency within the primary metals industry: a focus on gold. SAIMM Mineral Processing Conference, Cape Town, 4-5 August 2011.