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Integrating Industrial Ecology Thinking into the Management of Mining Waste

Center for Social Responsibility in Mining, The Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, St Lucia QLD 4072, Australia
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Academic Editor: Damien Giurco
Resources 2015, 4(4), 765-786; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources4040765
Received: 25 August 2015 / Revised: 14 October 2015 / Accepted: 15 October 2015 / Published: 22 October 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Resource Productivity and Innovations)
Mining legacies are often dominated by large waste facilities and their associated environmental impacts. The most serious environmental problem associated with mine waste is heavy metals and acid leakage through a phenomenon called acid mine drainage (AMD). Interestingly, the toxicity of this leakage is partly due to the presence of valuable metals in the waste stream as a result of a diversity of factors influencing mining operations. A more preventive and recovery-oriented approach to waste management, integrated into mine planning and operations, could be both economically attractive and environmentally beneficial since it would: mitigate environmental impacts related to mine waste disposal (and consequently reduce the remediation costs); and increase the resource recovery at the mine site level. The authors argue that eco-efficiency and resilience (and the resulting increase in a mine’s lifetime) are both critical—yet overlooked—characteristics of sustainable mining operations. Based on these arguments, this paper proposes a framework to assist with identification of opportunities for improvement and to measure this improvement in terms of its contribution to a mine’s sustainability performance. View Full-Text
Keywords: mining; metals; eco-efficiency; resilience; mine waste; sustainable development; Material Flow Analysis; industrial ecology; sustainable resource management mining; metals; eco-efficiency; resilience; mine waste; sustainable development; Material Flow Analysis; industrial ecology; sustainable resource management
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Lèbre, É.; Corder, G. Integrating Industrial Ecology Thinking into the Management of Mining Waste. Resources 2015, 4, 765-786.

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