In arid -resource rich- regions an important synergy potential between solar energy and mining energy exists. The technological exploitation of those synergies will be called “Solar Mining” and will allow attaining a more sustainable mineral extraction. Given the intensive energy use of the mining sector, studying this potential is relevant for the country’s goal in terms of energy costs, emissions and competitive and sustainable mineral extraction.

Towards this goal, the benefits of solar technologies, such as photovoltaic, solar thermal, concentrated solar power and storage technologies, on mining will be evaluated from a systemic perspective (e.g. use of solar power for a more competitive and clean mineral extraction). Concurrently, the holistic benefits of mining on the solar industry will be studied (e.g. use of mining products, such as mineral salts, for local production of solar storage). A strong focus of this proposal is to develop, apply and disseminate a Life Cycle Approach (LCA) on energy technologies of mining operations.

Thus, first a diagnosis on the existing system is performed to describe the technical potential for Solar Mining. This data is then used as input for a LCA to determine the environmental and economic dimension of Solar Mining. Both perspectives are necessary to assess the sustainability of mineral extraction. Subsequently, a roadmap will be developed to recommend strategies for the deployment of Solar Mining.

On March the 13th, 2015, Conicyt informed the six winners of the Competition for joint research projects between Conicyt and the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). One of them is Solar Chile Mining, presented by the director of SERC Chile, Rodrigo Palma, deputy director of the Advanced Mining Technology Center (AMTC), Willy Kracht, researchers of the Energy Center (CE) Roberto Román and Jannik Haas, and the professor of the Institute of Energy Economics of the University of Stuttgart, Ludger Eltrop. This will be the first joint investigation of the CE with AMTC

Financial support

148.2 millions of Chilean pesos, granted by the Conicyt Chile – BMBF Germany call of 2014