Integrating Industrial Ecology Thinking into the Management of Mining Waste
- Quantify the benefits of a recovery-oriented waste management system; and
- Identify external and internal incentives to facilitate a desirable change in mining practices.
2. The Challenge of Sustainable Mining
2.1. Economic Resource Depletion
2.2. A resilience Problem
2.3. Mining Legacies
2.3.1. How is Mine Waste Generated?
Overburden or Waste Rock
Slag and Leached Ore
2.3.2. Mine Waste and Mining Legacies
3. A Potential Solution
3.1. A Preventive and Recovery-Oriented Waste Management
3.2. A New Pyramid of Priorities for Mine Waste Management
4. The Framework
4.1. Three Scenarios to Compare
- Scenario A: a traditional mine produces a certain amount of mineral concentrate P1 while generating an environmental impact E1 during its entire life cycle. After closure the mine legacies generate an additional environmental impact E1′.
- Scenario B: a traditional mine, a certain time after its initial closure is re-opened. The new mine operator decides to re-mine the waste deposits. This second operation leads to an additional production P2 and its related environmental impact E2. In between the two operations, the waste is deposited in the traditional way without planning for future extraction. Examples of case B can be found in practice, such as the large Australian mine sites Kalgoorlie and Mount Morgan.
- Scenario C: an innovative mine site is operated with a planning for future recovery as described earlier. It operates during a certain period, longer than in scenario A and without discontinuation as in scenario B, to produce a final amount of P3 while generating a certain environmental impact E3.
4.2. Quantitative Analysis (Scenarios A and B)
4.3. Qualitative Investigation (Scenarios B and C)
4.3.1. Three Main Scales of Investigation
Technology and Efficiency
Management and Integration
The Role of Policies
- Recognises the scarcity of the non-renewable resource by optimising extraction and minimising the amounts of valuable materials in the waste stream;
- And is able to provide long-term social and economic stability to its stakeholders by prolonging and diversifying its operations. This means being resilient to economic changes.
Conflicts of Interest
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Lèbre, É.; Corder, G. Integrating Industrial Ecology Thinking into the Management of Mining Waste. Resources 2015, 4, 765-786. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources4040765
Lèbre É, Corder G. Integrating Industrial Ecology Thinking into the Management of Mining Waste. Resources. 2015; 4(4):765-786. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources4040765Chicago/Turabian Style
Lèbre, Éléonore, and Glen Corder. 2015. "Integrating Industrial Ecology Thinking into the Management of Mining Waste" Resources 4, no. 4: 765-786. https://doi.org/10.3390/resources4040765