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Open AccessArticle

Metal Mining’s Environmental Pressures: A Review and Updated Estimates on CO2 Emissions, Water Use, and Land Requirements

1
Mining Engineering and Mineral Economics, Montanuniversitaet Leoben, 8700 Leoben, Austria
2
School of Science, Department of Geology, Tallinn University of Technology, 19086 Tallinn, Estonia
3
Institute for Ecological Economics, Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU), 1020 Wien, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2881; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082881
Received: 28 June 2018 / Revised: 9 August 2018 / Accepted: 10 August 2018 / Published: 14 August 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
The significant increase in metal mining and the inevitability of the continuation of this trend suggests that environmental pressures, as well as related impacts, have become an issue of global relevance. Yet the scale of the impact remains, to a large extent, unknown. This paper examines the mining sector’s demands on CO2 emissions, water use, as well as demands on land use focusing on four principal metals: iron, aluminium (i.e., bauxite ore), copper, and gold. These materials represent a large proportion of all metallic materials mined in terms of crude tonnage and economic value. This paper examines how the main providers of mining data, the United Nations, government sources of some main metal producing and consuming countries, the scientific literature, and company reports report environmental pressures in these three areas. The authors conclude that, in the global context, the pressure brought about by metal mining is relatively low. The data on this subject are still very limited and there are significant gaps in consistency on criteria such as boundary descriptions, input parameter definitions, and allocation method descriptions as well as a lack of commodity and/or site specific reporting of environmental data at a company level. View Full-Text
Keywords: mining; gold; bauxite; copper; iron ore; environmental pressure; CO2; water; land use mining; gold; bauxite; copper; iron ore; environmental pressure; CO2; water; land use
MDPI and ACS Style

Tost, M.; Bayer, B.; Hitch, M.; Lutter, S.; Moser, P.; Feiel, S. Metal Mining’s Environmental Pressures: A Review and Updated Estimates on CO2 Emissions, Water Use, and Land Requirements. Sustainability 2018, 10, 2881.

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