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Power Generating from Defunct Gold Mines

  • 31 Mar 2023
  • 4 min read

Why in News?

Recently, an Australian renewable-energy company Green Gravity has proposed a scheme to generate electricity from the defunct Kolar Gold Fields (KGF), in Karnataka, using Low-Tech Gravity Technology.

What is the Mechanism of the Technology?

  • The plan is to find defunct mines, which often go hundreds or thousands of meters deep, and haul a Weighted Block, that may be around 40 tonnes, up to the top of the mine shaft using renewable power during the day.
  • When backup power is required, the heavy block will fall, under gravity, and the ensuing momentum will power a generator via a connected shaft (or rotor).
  • The depth to which the block can slip can be determined via a braking system, thus giving control on the amount of power that can be produced.
    • This is similar to the pumped hydropower storage method, where water is pumped uphill electrically into a reservoir, and then released downhill to move a turbine and generate electricity as needed, as in a hydroelectric power plant.

What is the Significance of this Technology?

  • A hiccup that makes renewable energy unreliable is that there is no power during nights or windless days. Charging a battery to use as a backup during this downtime hikes power prices.
  • Low-tech Gravity Technology can help address this challenge. This technology may use more energy than produced but when accounting for being able to make renewable energy available at off-peak hours, can mean less reliance on coal-produced power and access to reliable power.
  • Using weighted blocks instead of water means that decommissioned mines can be put to use and the environmental costs and challenges of moving water up can be avoided.

What are the Key Facts of Kolar Gold Fields?

  • Kolar Gold Fields (KGF) is a mining region located in the Kolar district of Karnataka. It is known for its historic gold mines, which were among the deepest in the world.
  • Mining in KGF was started by Jhon Taylor & Sons in 1880.
  • The mines remained active for 121 years before it experienced an unsystematic closure on February 28, 2001. The mines were closed owing to high operational costs and low revenues.
  • Apart from mining Gold, the mines have also been used in particle physics experiments where research teams have discovered elusive, cosmic particles called atmospheric neutrinos.
    • Currently, India has three working gold mines in the country -- Hutti and Uti mines in Karnataka and the Hirabuddini mines in Jharkhand.
    • India’s gold production is around 1.6 tonnes a year, compared to the 774 tonnes a year of gold that it consumes.

Source: TH

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