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Decreasing Ore Grades in Global Metallic Mining: A Theoretical Issue or a Global Reality?

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Research Centre for Energy Resources and Consumption (CIRCE)—Universidad de Zaragoza, CIRCE Building—Campus Río Ebro, Mariano Esquillor Gómez, 15, 50018 Zaragoza, Spain
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Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil Engineering, Monash University, Wellington Rd, Clayton VIC 3800, Australia
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Benjamin C McLellan
Resources 2016, 5(4), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/resources5040036
Received: 29 September 2016 / Revised: 21 October 2016 / Accepted: 27 October 2016 / Published: 7 November 2016
Mining industry requires high amounts of energy to extract and process resources, including a variety of concentration and refining processes. Using energy consumption information, different sustainability issues can be addressed, such as the relationship with ore grade over the years, energy variations in electricity or fossil fuel use. A rigorous analysis and understanding of the energy intensity use in mining is the first step towards a more sustainable mining industry and, globally, better resource management. Numerous studies have focused on the energy consumption of mining projects, with analysis carried out primarily in one single country or one single region. This paper quantifies, on a global level, the relationship between ore grade and energy intensity. With the case of copper, the study has shown that the average copper ore grade is decreasing over time, while the energy consumption and the total material production in the mine increases. Analyzing only copper mines, the average ore grade has decreased approximately by 25% in just ten years. In that same period, the total energy consumption has increased at a higher rate than production (46% energy increase over 30% production increase). View Full-Text
Keywords: energy intensity; energy use; mining; ore grade energy intensity; energy use; mining; ore grade
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Calvo, G.; Mudd, G.; Valero, A.; Valero, A. Decreasing Ore Grades in Global Metallic Mining: A Theoretical Issue or a Global Reality? Resources 2016, 5, 36.

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