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Schneider Electric, the leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, and Wärtsilä, a global leader in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets, have partnered to create a sustainable, uninterrupted power solution for the most remote lithium mines in the world.

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The holistic fit-for-purpose power system includes tailored power supply consulting and design, power infrastructure build, equipment delivery, installation, digital microgrids operation, and commissioning available to mining operators around the world.

The Schneider Electric and Wärtsilä solution, developed over 20 years of collaboration spanning over 200 projects, optimises the efficient delivery and use of energy. It unifies and leverages microgrids, thermal power generation, energy storage, and other renewable energy sources to provide a highly cost-effective power solution with a minimal environmental footprint for the mining industry.

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Based on pilot projects, typical results include:

• An average overall CapEx reduction of 27%
• A CO2 emissions reduction of up to 20% or 18,500 tons per year per mine
• An energy cost reduction of 40% when switching to the joint Schneider – Wärtsilä solution from local off-grid diesel-generated power

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“The benefits go well beyond lithium mining,” said Vivek Kapoor, Vice President & Regional Segment Leader, Mining, Minerals and Metals Segment at Schneider Electric. “To create a net-zero future, electric vehicles and renewable energy storage must become more affordable and accessible. This solution will enable mining operators to reduce the environmental impact of their sites and reduce the cost of production. It has the potential to power the next generation of technology and ultimately act as the foundation of a net-zero society.

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“Global minerals, metals and mining operators need to decarbonize their operations at speed and to move towards becoming 100% renewable. This solution provides the answers to these challenges, bringing transparency and efficiency to previously opaque operations.”

“The increasing global demand for lithium needed for battery storage applications is putting pressure on mining operations to be as efficient and cost-effective as possible,” said Jean Nabb, Director, Strategic Partnership, Wärtsilä Energy.

“The power supply is a fundamental element of resiliency and reliability. Together with Schneider we have designed a solution that harnesses the strengths and experience of our two companies. It will not only guarantee a reliable energy supply but will also do so with economic and environmental benefits owing to the increased efficiency of the mining operations.”

The design concept of the project extends to the lifecycle of the mine, delivering and provisioning for the exactly right level of power to enable a mine’s productivity. As a result, operational costs are reduced and power availability is optimized to reach a mine’s production targets.

Predictability of parts, power supply and maintenance costs reduce the need for working capital within the 24/7 cycle. This solution works for new mines that are currently being designed and also for mining project conversions. In particular, Argentina has the biggest lithium mining potential in the next five years as sustainable uninterrupted power becomes available.

Schneider Electric and Wärtsilä signed the framework co-operation agreement for the development of the design for mining energy solutions in March 2020. The parties aim to optimise customer benefit in mining projects by offering solutions based on mutually complementary technologies. The business whitepaper was published in March 2021.