Debswana pushes for 30% energy cut

Staff Writer
Debswana plans to cut its energy usage by 30 percent, saving millions of Pula in the annual cost of electricity, fuel and other energy sources at its Orapa, Letlhakane and Jwaneng Mines.

Annually, Debswana spends between P160 and P170 million on its electricity bill, consuming 85 and 90 megawatts at peak or 560 gigawatts per hour, the latter equivalent to 560 billion watts per hour. While BCL Mine is the country's single biggest consumer of electricity, Debswana is the largest aggregated user, across its three mining operations, consuming about 20 percent of national electricity supplies.

Debswana Senior Manager Energy Conservation, Bernard Busani explained that the 30 percent energy savings being sought were in terms of the company's energy per unit production or energy efficiency.

"We have studies showing that we can save between 15 and 30 percent if we look carefully at our power consumption; our studies show that about 51 percent of the electricity being used, is consumed when there's no one in the offices and lights are left on," he said at a Debswana energy conservation brainstorming.

"This shows that there are opportunities. In fact, since last year, we have been recording achievements in Gaborone. We were sitting at 19 percent energy savings in Gaborone; now we are at about 25 percent energy savings and this has been achieved without doing anything except sensitising people.

"By the end of the year, if we continue we will achieve a 30 percent energy saving in Gaborone."

Debswana is also among the country's biggest corporate consumers of diesel, fuel and other fuel sources such as LPG, Coal Bed Methane and solar.

This week, senior Debswana officials said the recent increases in fuel and electricity had invigorated the diamond giant's ongoing efforts to trim its energy usage. In May, fuel prices rose by 12.5 percent, before declining by three percent in August, due to fluctuations in world crude prices and the Pula/US dollar relationship.

The officials noted that while government increased electricity prices by 30 percent across the board in May, Debswana had incurred a 55.5 percent increase due to the conditions attached to the increment. The diamond miner expects the 55.5 percent increase to translate to an additional P83 million to its electricity bill

for 2010.

Busani told BusinessWeek that while Debswana's energy costs will rise through increased production and the anticipated higher electricity tariffs, energy use per unit production or energy efficiency, needs to decline.

Debswana's official energy conservation policy aims to achieve 20 percent reduction in energy use per unit production by 2020.

"Costs will keep going up as the mines expand and deepen and also as tariffs rise. However, we are aiming to reduce energy consumption. In essence, we are saying, 'we would like to reduce our energy costs per unit by 30 percent,' he said.

Debswana Managing Director, Blackie Marole said as a large energy consumer, the diamond miner was eager to take the lead in conservation, particularly given the adverse consequences of current usage patterns on costs, the environment and availability of supply.

"For us, some of the money figures do not matter as they do for other places, but it is important for us to be seen being responsible in the business place. I'm concerned, for instance, that because of our finances, we find that we are able to ask our supplies for the biggest trucks available, which guzzle gas and produce a lot of carbon emissions!

"Electricity is the third major cost and we cannot play this down. Government has said they will increase tariffs and this is a big incentive for us to ensure we reduce the energy usage," he said.

Marole challenged Debswana employees to set demanding targets for energy conservation, saying current consumption patterns would lead to the company asking the Botswana Power Corporation to establish more generation.

"If the market thinks that we are responsible for increases in the tariffs to be paid by everyone, then we are no good. We need to have a strategy around reducing our energy usage.

"We need to look for new ways of reducing our energy usage, because we will not achieve conservation by continuing business as usual," he said.

Part of Debswana's evolving energy conservation strategy includes behaviour change, technology acquisition, information availability, capacity and skills development.



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