Global energy consumption due to friction and wear in the mining industry

Kenneth Holmberg, Päivi Kivikytö-Reponen, Pirita Härkisaari, Kati Valtonen, Ali Erdemir

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    327 Citations (Scopus)


    Calculations on the global energy consumption due to friction and wear in the mineral mining industry are presented. For the first time, the impact of wear is also included in more detailed calculations in order to show its enormous tribological and economic impacts on this industry. A large variety of mining equipment used for the extraction, haulage and beneficiation of underground mining, surface mining and mineral processing were analysed. Coefficients of friction and wear rates of moving mechanical assemblies were estimated based on available information in literature in four general cases: (1) a global average mine in use today, (2) a mine with today's best commercial technology, (3) a mine with today's most advanced technology based upon the adaptation of the latest R&D achievements, and (4) a mine with best futuristic technology forecasted in the next 10 years. The following conclusions were reached: Total energy consumption of global mining activities, including both mineral and rock mining, is estimated to be 6.2% of the total global energy consumption. About 40% of the consumed energy in mineral mining (equalling to 4.6 EJ annually on global scale) is used for overcoming friction. In addition, 2 EJ is used to remanufacture and replace worn out parts and reserve and stock up spare parts and equipment needed due to wear failures. The largest energy consuming mining actions are grinding (32%), haulage (24%), ventilation (9%) and digging (8%). Friction and wear is annually resulting in 970 million tonnes of CO2 emissions worldwide in mineral mining (accounting for 2.7% of world CO2 emissions). The total estimated economic losses resulting from friction and wear in mineral mining are in total 210,000 million Euros annually distributed as 40% for overcoming friction, 27% for production of replacement parts and spare equipment, 26% for maintenance work, and 7% for lost production. By taking advantage of new technology for friction reduction and wear protection in mineral mining equipment, friction and wear losses could potentially be reduced by 15% in the short term (10 years) and by 30% in the long term (20 years). In the short term this would annually equal worldwide savings of 31,100 million euros, 280 TWh energy consumption and a CO2 emission reduction of 145 million tonnes. In the long term, the annual benefit would be 62,200 million euros, 550 TWh less energy consumption, and a CO2 emission reduction of 290 million tonnes. Potential new remedies to reduce friction and wear in mining include the development and uses of new materials, especially materials with improved strength and hardness properties, more effective surface treatments, high-performance surface coatings, new lubricants and lubricant additives, and new designs of moving parts and surfaces of e.g. liners, blades, plates, shields, shovels, jaws, chambers, tires, seals, bearings, gearboxes, engines, conveyor belts, pumps, fans, hoppers and feeders.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)116-139
    JournalTribology International
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • energy
    • friction
    • mining
    • wear


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