In recent years, increased interest and actions have been taken to better understand, and mitigate, sustainability impacts of mining activities, by both industry and policy. The present work reports on a sustainability hotspots screening performed for the EU Horizon 2020 “Integrated Mineral Technologies for More Sustainable Raw Material Supply” (ITERAMS) project, which foresees a more efficient water recycling, tailings valorization, and minimization of environmental footprint. The focus of this paper is on social and environmental issues in mining. Different methodologies were explored, starting from a qualitative causal loop modelling. Afterwards, an environmental and social LCA screening was performed using well-accepted databases and methods, thus completing results with a literature research. The main findings related to the importance of the supply chain, the vulnerability of local communities, and the toxic emissions from tailings offer a starting point to reflect on the specific social, socio-economic, and environmental context which may influence these issues. A better understanding of the environmental and social pressures associated with mining is not only crucial to orient the sustainability assessment foreseen for the ITERAMS project, but also to contribute in terms of methodology to the challenges tackled by policy and research worldwide towards a more sustainable mining.
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