Next Article in Journal
PGE Production in Southern Africa, Part I: Production and Market Trends
Previous Article in Journal
Role of Collectors and Depressants in Mineral Flotation: A Theoretical Analysis Based on Extended DLVO Theory
Article Menu
Issue 11 (November) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Minerals 2017, 7(11), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/min7110225

PGE Production in Southern Africa, Part II: Environmental Aspects

1
Institute of Environmental Technology and Energy Economics (IUE), Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), Eissendorfer Str. 40, 21073 Hamburg, Germany
2
Department of Quality and Operations Management, Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park Kingsway Campus, P.O. Box 524, Auckland Park, 2006 Johannesburg, South Africa
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 24 July 2017 / Revised: 8 November 2017 / Accepted: 14 November 2017 / Published: 18 November 2017
Full-Text   |   PDF [3960 KB, uploaded 18 November 2017]   |  

Abstract

Platinum group elements (PGEs, 6E PGE = Pt + Pd + Rh + Ru + Ir + Au) are used in numerous applications that seek to reduce environmental impacts of mobility and energy generation. Consequently, the future demand for PGEs is predicted to increase. Previous studies indicate that environmental impacts of PGE production change over time emphasizing the need of up-to-date data and assessments. In this context, an analysis of environmental aspects of PGE production is needed to support the environmental assessment of technologies using PGEs, to reveal environmental hotspots within the production chain and to identify optimization potential. Therefore, this paper assesses greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, cumulative fossil energy demand (CEDfossil), sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and water use of primary PGE production in Southern Africa, where most of today’s supply originates from. The analysis shows that in 2015, emissions amounted to 45 t CO2-eq. and 502 kg SO2 per kg 6E PGE in the case GHG and SO2 emissions, respectively. GHG emissions are dominated by emissions from electricity provision contributing more than 90% to the overall GHG emissions. The CEDfossil amounted to 0.60 TJ per kg 6E PGE. A detailed analysis of the CEDfossil reveals that electricity provision based on coal power consumes the most fossil energy carriers among all energy forms. Results show that the emissions are directly related to the electricity demand. Thus, the reduction in the electricity demand presents the major lever to reduce the consumption of fossil energy resources and the emission of GHGs and SO2. In 2015, the water withdrawal amounted to 0.272 million L per kg 6E PGE. Additionally, 0.402 million L of recycled water were used per kg 6E PGE. All assessed indicators except ore grades and production volumes reveal increasing trends in the period from 2010 to 2015. It can be concluded that difficult market conditions (see part I of this paper series) and increasing environmental impacts present a challenging situation for the Southern African PGE mining industry. View Full-Text
Keywords: mining; platinum group metals (PGE); South Africa; Zimbabwe; environmental assessment; greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; sulfur dioxide emissions; cumulative energy demand (fossil); water demand mining; platinum group metals (PGE); South Africa; Zimbabwe; environmental assessment; greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; sulfur dioxide emissions; cumulative energy demand (fossil); water demand
Figures

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

Supplementary material

SciFeed

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Buchspies, B.; Thormann, L.; Mbohwa, C.; Kaltschmitt, M. PGE Production in Southern Africa, Part II: Environmental Aspects. Minerals 2017, 7, 225.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Minerals EISSN 2075-163X Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top