As energy efficiency becomes a critical concern for mining operations, equipment monitoring can help track energy use and improve productivity.

Energy efficiency is one of the most-discussed phenomena in the mining world right now. Pressure to minimize energy usage and corresponding expenditures comes from many sides, including explicit insistence from government regulators and industry leaders, as well as the implicit burden that thinning market margins provide. At the Asia-Pacific International Mining Exhibition (AIMEX), held in Sydney, Australia from August 20-23, the future of mining was a hot topic of conversation.

An AIMEX panel featuring several industry leaders focused on the direction that the mining sector is taking, specifically considering mining equipment monitoring and its effect on asset reliability and energy consumption, reported Mining Australia. Alan Broome, chairman of Australian mining services firm Austmine, spoke to the widespread impact that condition monitoring and automation will have on mining operations.

"Mining in the future is going to be completely different to what we're used to seeing so far, and we'll see this technological change really coming over the next five years," Broome told the panel.

Geologist Ian Plimer spoke to the need for reduced energy consumption in the mining and industrial sectors, according to the news source, telling the panel that around 2 percent of the world's electricity is utilized just for the process of crushing and grinding rocks.

Energy-conscious mining machinery and monitoring solutions will be key to reducing power consumption in the long run, wrote Mining Technology contributor Heidi Vella. Ultimately, it's about adaptation - and if mining companies don't take it upon themselves to invest in solutions that can improve their electrical use while maintaining their production levels, it's possible that government legislation spurred by environmentalist groups could end up imposing new standards that end up curtailing productivity and performance.

Energy efficiency needs to become a core business concern, rather than an afterthought. It's not something that can simply be tacked on at the end. While more energy-efficient equipment hits the market, most companies don't want want to part with costly assets that are still productive. Mining monitors can keep track of machine performance and help operators find that sweet spot between productivity and energy savings.