African mining companies must prepare for the outcomes of COP21
While the mining industry is often criticised for its environmental impact, energy consultant Dr Thomas Hillig has observed that many of the large mining companies are taking heed of the sea-change brought about by climate talks such as the COP21 conference in Paris.
Large mining companies are working on a strategy for renewable-energy projects such as wind and solar power at their mines. Companies like Rio Tinto, Glencore, BHP Billiton and Goldfields have already finished their first pilot power plants or have recently announced new projects.
Since energy typically amounts to approximately 20 to 30 percent of the operating costs of a mine, carbon-reduction decisions at the conference could have a strong influence on the cost position of mines.
Mining companies should therefore adapt early to the challenges of a low-carbon economy to gain significant competitive advantages and avoid any negative financial pitfalls. In many cases, renewable energy is less expensive than electricity from conventional energy sources—even today, without any new carbon actions—especially for remote mines that are not connected to the grid and are powered by expensive diesel fuel.
Hillig said: “Mining companies are in the process of understanding that renewable energy can largely improve their competitive situation. Many miners struggle, however, to make the necessary decisions quickly as they face severe market challenges from falling commodity prices at the same time.
“We are in a normal learning process, many mining companies have already understood that the prices of solar and wind power have decreased considerably in the last years. If significant carbon reduction measures are adopted at the Paris climate conference, we will see many solar and wind plants at mines in the very near future.”
Africa contains 46 percent of the world’s diamond reserves, 21 percent of its gold, and 62 percent of the world’s platinum, as well as 5 percent of the world’s coal.
High carbon charges could even speed up the diffusion of battery-storage technology in order to increase the solar and wind share at the mines.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”