September 1998

Industries of the Future: New Technologies for the Mining Industry

Copper Applications in Mining & Extraction


Declaring that "minerals and energy mined from the earth are the building blocks of our economy," the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Mining Association (NMA) entered into an agreement on June 4th to launch a government/industry research and development partnership in the mining area as part of the DOE's 'Industries of the Future' program.

"The 'Industries of the Future' pact is an innovative concept designed to promote cooperative research and development of mining technologies insuring they are energy efficient, enable sustained economic growth and are environmentally safe," said Douglas C. Yearley, NMA chairman, and chairman and CEO of Phelps Dodge Corporation.

Led by the Office of Industrial Technologies within the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 'Industries of the Future' encourages energy-intensive industries to work together to create industry-wide technological research for the future. This alliance offers a forum in which industry representatives can discuss the likely economic, regulatory and market demands on their industry in 20 years and develop a strategy for dealing with these demands. Each industry then produces a research agenda that defines its technology needs for turning that strategy into reality. This partnership is formed in the hopes that the investigative process spawned by this coalition will propagate new ways to save significant amounts of energy, reduce waste and improve industrial competitiveness.

One of the primary concerns of the National Mining Association and the Department of Energy, in addressing the present and future needs of the U.S. mining industry, is the energy efficiency of motors, drives and driven equipment. Motor systems consume over 90% of the electricity used in mining creating many opportunities to test proposed energy and productivity improvements. Since the development of energy-efficient motors is a chief concern of both the DOE and the NMA, this issue is the foundation for the creation of 'The Mining Industry Motor Systems Initiative,' a part of NMA's participation agreement and visionary statement for the 'Industries of the Future.'

The DOE's Motor Challenge program develops, produces and distributes unbiased technical information and decision-making tools; offering facts sheets, case studies and other product related to energy efficient motor-drive systems. The National Mining Association, as an Allied Partner, can now distribute these materials to its membership. NMA, in association with the DOE and the Motor Challenge program, plan to co-sponsor one-half day workshops at NMA conferences and other industry events on:

  • MotorMaster+ (a software program to assist in motor selection, motor management and economic analysis can be available by request at AMO Tools Help Desk)
  • ASDMaster (a software program to assist in the selection of adjustable speed drive)
  • Pumping systems optimization.

This partnership will provide NMA members access to practical technical information and new tools for development, and, more importantly, environmental benefits from improved efficiencies. The U.S. mining industry produces coal, metals, building materials and other essential minerals that affect the lives of 267 million Americans. In 1995, $524 billion in total economic benefit was generated by the industry, helping to sustain nearly 5 million U.S. jobs. 'Industries of the Future' provides the framework for the DOE and the mining industry to pursue research that will improve the quality of life in the United States and abroad by providing information on ecologically sustainable production.

In the signing of this agreement, the mining industry joins a coalition of aluminum, chemicals, forest products, glass, metalcasting, steel and agriculture industries established in 1994. This association, fittingly called 'Industries of the Future,' would bring together industry, government and supporting laboratories and institutions in an effort to "maintain the United States as a world leader in mining, reduce costs for producing goods, increase our energy security, improve environmental performance and help our economy prosper," said Federico Pena, Secretary of Energy. The mining industry's new alliance with this partnership is assembled to lead to the development of a new generation of safe, environmentally sound mining technologies for the 21st century.

Mentioned in this article:

Also in this Issue:


2007   |   2006   |   2005   |   2004   |   2003   |   2002   |   2001   |   2000   |   1999   |   1998   |   1997