Special Issue "Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Ben McLellan
Website
Guest Editor
Graduate School of Energy Science, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan
Interests: energy technology; resource policy; nexus; sustainability; sustainable development; hydrogen energy; criticality assessment; water; minerals
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Prof. Dr. Glen Corder
Website
Guest Editor
Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia
Interests: mining; minerals; industrial ecology; circular economy; sustainability; sustainable development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainability has become a key issue, or catch-cry, for many industries globally. However, perhaps with regards to their potential direct impacts and potential for improvement or enhancement of benefits to society, economy, and the environment, the mining, mineral, and energy sectors have one of the most important roles to play. The contributions of these sectors continue to be crucial for the provision of resources and the power to drive society and development. At the same time, there are obvious issues of environmental, social, and economic harm and mismanagement that need to be addressed.

This Special Issue seeks papers considering the sustainability contributions of these sectors from theoretical and practical viewpoints. Case studies, frameworks and evaluations of sustainable development of the industry at various scales would be welcomed.

Some potential themes or topics (though not nearly a comprehensive list), could include:

  • New or advanced assessment or evaluation frameworks for sustainability in the sector
  • Studies focusing on the contribution of minerals and energy to the SDGs
  • Local case studies of innovative practices and technologies
  • Comparative studies of approaches to sustainability in the different sectors
  • Historical examinations of changing approaches and attitudes (e.g., it has been 15 years since the MMSD report “Breaking New Ground” and the establishment of the ICMM)
  • Prospective considerations of resource and technology requirements from these sectors
  • Supply chain or life cycle analysis for quantitative sustainability assessment
  • Nexus considerations that influence sustainability evaluation or policy in these sectors

Dr. Ben McLellan
Dr. Glen Corder
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • resources
  • sustainable development
  • criticality
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
  • Social Impact Assessment (SIA)
  • community
  • resource curse

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Metal Mining’s Environmental Pressures: A Review and Updated Estimates on CO2 Emissions, Water Use, and Land Requirements
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2881; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082881 - 14 Aug 2018
Cited by 12
Abstract
The significant increase in metal mining and the inevitability of the continuation of this trend suggests that environmental pressures, as well as related impacts, have become an issue of global relevance. Yet the scale of the impact remains, to a large extent, unknown. [...] Read more.
The significant increase in metal mining and the inevitability of the continuation of this trend suggests that environmental pressures, as well as related impacts, have become an issue of global relevance. Yet the scale of the impact remains, to a large extent, unknown. This paper examines the mining sector’s demands on CO2 emissions, water use, as well as demands on land use focusing on four principal metals: iron, aluminium (i.e., bauxite ore), copper, and gold. These materials represent a large proportion of all metallic materials mined in terms of crude tonnage and economic value. This paper examines how the main providers of mining data, the United Nations, government sources of some main metal producing and consuming countries, the scientific literature, and company reports report environmental pressures in these three areas. The authors conclude that, in the global context, the pressure brought about by metal mining is relatively low. The data on this subject are still very limited and there are significant gaps in consistency on criteria such as boundary descriptions, input parameter definitions, and allocation method descriptions as well as a lack of commodity and/or site specific reporting of environmental data at a company level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
Open AccessArticle
The Impact of Electric Vehicle Demand and Battery Recycling on Price Dynamics of Lithium-Ion Battery Cathode Materials: A Vector Error Correction Model (VECM) Analysis
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2870; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082870 - 13 Aug 2018
Cited by 12
Abstract
The recent rise in demand for electric vehicles (EV) and energy storage supporting power systems has increased the demand for lithium-ion batteries (LIB), and it is expected to be more significant in near future. However, materials for LIB, such as lithium and cobalt, [...] Read more.
The recent rise in demand for electric vehicles (EV) and energy storage supporting power systems has increased the demand for lithium-ion batteries (LIB), and it is expected to be more significant in near future. However, materials for LIB, such as lithium and cobalt, may face limited supply due to oligopolistic market characteristics, and this can have a significant impact on prices of LIB materials. This paper examines the dynamics of LIB raw material prices (cobalt, lithium, nickel, and manganese prices) with EV demand using the Vector Error Correction Model (VECM) method. The result shows that the EV demand is important in short-run dynamics of cobalt and lithium prices, which indicates that the recent increase in lithium and cobalt prices has been caused by increase in EV demand. In the long-run equilibrium, lithium and nickel prices move inversely with cobalt prices. The impulse response results confirm that EV demand has an immediate positive effect on cobalt price, and the effect maintains over two years. On the other hand, the EV demand shock to nickel, lithium, and manganese prices is relatively small. This study also analyses the impact of recycling policy of LIB on material prices. Finally, the paper discusses the policy implications for stabilizing material prices of LIB. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effects of Material’s Transport on Various Steps of Production System on Energetic Efficiency of Biodiesel Production
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2736; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082736 - 03 Aug 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Rapeseed plantation biodiesel production systems require the transportation of goods, like raw materials, machines and tools, and products between various conversion stages of agricultural as well as industrial subsystems. Each transportation step requires the consumption of some energy. This consumption decreases the net [...] Read more.
Rapeseed plantation biodiesel production systems require the transportation of goods, like raw materials, machines and tools, and products between various conversion stages of agricultural as well as industrial subsystems. Each transportation step requires the consumption of some energy. This consumption decreases the net amount of energy delivered out of the biofuel production system, and consequently decreases the energetic efficiency of the system. The majority of studies on biofuel sustainability are done by means of the LCA method with the use of a data average for some region and period of time. Such analyses do not reveal the possible causes of the conclusions determined. The present work deals with computer modelling of the influence of the energy consumed on those transport routes on the energetic efficiency of the production system. The model enables determination of the effects caused by changes introduced to technological parameters. The effects caused by variation of fuel consumption, the load capacity of transportation means, size of plantation, distribution and sizes of individual fields, distances between fields, plantation yield, and finally the distance between the plantation and the industrial facility are studied using the numerical model developed earlier. This approach is aimed towards identifying the reasons for the behavior of a system controlled by many somewhat coupled variables. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
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Open AccessArticle
Historical and Empirical Basis for Communal Title in Minerals at the National Level: Does Ownership Matter for Human Development?
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1958; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061958 - 11 Jun 2018
Abstract
This paper explores the impact of mineral ownership on the resource curse as measured by the Human Development Index. We start from the basic assumption that the Earth and its minerals are common pool resources, and the sharing of benefits would improve development [...] Read more.
This paper explores the impact of mineral ownership on the resource curse as measured by the Human Development Index. We start from the basic assumption that the Earth and its minerals are common pool resources, and the sharing of benefits would improve development outcomes. Communal title to minerals exists at the international level for the deep seabed, outer space objects, and, potentially Antarctica, and at the sub-national level through communal title to land, such as traditional landowners and aboriginal tribes. A comprehensive summary of national mining title laws for 199 countries was completed in order to determine if communal ownership is recognized at the national level. The finding is that this type of ownership is non-existent at the national level. The methods include historiography, extensive compilation of national constitutions and mining laws, and linear regression analysis. Ownership titles were combined into centralized and decentralized categories, and simple regression conducted to determine correlation with the human development index (HDI) for 199 countries. Initial findings are that decentralized mineral ownership titles are statistically correlated with higher HDI outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
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Open AccessArticle
Estimating Residential Electricity Consumption in Nigeria to Support Energy Transitions
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1440; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051440 - 05 May 2018
Cited by 19
Abstract
Considering the challenge of accessing reliable household metering data in Nigeria, how can electricity consumption levels be determined? And how do disparities in electricity consumption patterns across the country affect the pursuit of sustainability, universal access and energy transition objectives? This study combined [...] Read more.
Considering the challenge of accessing reliable household metering data in Nigeria, how can electricity consumption levels be determined? And how do disparities in electricity consumption patterns across the country affect the pursuit of sustainability, universal access and energy transition objectives? This study combined household-reported data on ownership of electrical appliances and energy expenditure with online sales records of household appliances to estimate current and future residential electricity demand in Nigeria, as well as the required generation capacity to achieve 100% electricity access, under various scenarios. Median residential electricity consumption was estimated at 18–27 kWh per capita but these estimates vary between the geographical zones with the North East and South West representing extremes. Under a universal access scenario, the future electricity supply system would be expected to have installed generation capacity sufficient to meet the estimated residential demand of 85 TWh. To further understand the required infrastructure investment as a whole and the approaches that might be preferred in rural versus urban areas, the disaggregated, zone-by-zone and urban/rural data may offer more insight than a whole-of-country approach. The data obtained is useful for identifying specific transitions at the sub-national level that can minimize the required investment while maximizing households’ energy access. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
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Open AccessArticle
“Slowing” and “Narrowing” the Flow of Metals for Consumer Goods: Evaluating Opportunities and Barriers
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1096; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041096 - 05 Apr 2018
Cited by 8
Abstract
Metal resources are essential materials for many consumer products, including vehicles and a wide array of electrical and electronic goods. These metal resources often cause adverse social and environmental impacts from their extraction, supply and disposal, and it is therefore important to increase [...] Read more.
Metal resources are essential materials for many consumer products, including vehicles and a wide array of electrical and electronic goods. These metal resources often cause adverse social and environmental impacts from their extraction, supply and disposal, and it is therefore important to increase the sustainability of their production and use. A broad range of strategies and actions to improve the sustainability of resources are increasingly being discussed within the evolving concept of the circular economy. This paper uses this lens to evaluate the opportunities and barriers to improve the sustainability of metals in consumer products in Australia, with a focus on strategies that “slow” and “narrow” material flow loops. We have drawn on Allwood’s characterisation of material efficiency strategies, as they have the potential to reduce the total demand for metals. These strategies target the distribution, sale, and use of products, which have received less research attention compared to the sustainability of mining, production, and recycling, yet it is vitally important for changing patterns of consumption in a circular economy. Specifically, we have considered the strategies of product longevity (life extension, intensity of use, repair, and resale), remanufacturing, component reuse, and using less material for the same product or service (digitisation, servicisation, and light-weighting). Within the Australian context, this paper identifies the strategies that have the greatest opportunity to increase material efficiency for metal-containing products (such as mobility, household appliances, and personal electronics), by evaluating current implementation of these strategies and identifying the material, economic, and social barriers to and opportunities for expanding these strategies. We find that many of these strategies have been successfully implemented for mobility, while applying these strategies to personal electronics remains the biggest challenge. Product longevity emerged as the strategy with the most significant opportunity for further implementation in Australia, as it is the most broadly applicable across product types and has significant potential for material efficiency benefits. The barriers to material efficiency strategies highlight the need for policies that broaden the focus beyond closing the loop to “slowing” and “narrowing” material loops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
Open AccessArticle
Exergoecology Assessment of Mineral Exports from Latin America: Beyond a Tonnage Perspective
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 723; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030723 - 06 Mar 2018
Cited by 9
Abstract
Latin America has traditionally been a raw material supplier since colonial times. In this paper, we analyze mineral exports from an exergoecology perspective from twenty countries in Latin American (LA-20). We apply material flow analysis (MFA) principles along with the concept of the [...] Read more.
Latin America has traditionally been a raw material supplier since colonial times. In this paper, we analyze mineral exports from an exergoecology perspective from twenty countries in Latin American (LA-20). We apply material flow analysis (MFA) principles along with the concept of the exergy replacement cost (ERC), which considers both quantity and thermodynamic quality of minerals, reflecting their scarcity in the crust. ERC determines the energy that would be required to recover minerals to their original conditions in the mines once they have been totally dispersed into the Earth’s crust, with prevailing technology. Using ERC has helped us identify the importance of certain traded minerals that could be overlooked in a traditional MFA based on a mass basis only. Our method has enabled us to determine mineral balance, both in mass (tonnes) and in ERC terms (Mtoe). Using indicators, both in mass and ERC, we have assessed the self-sufficiency and dependency of the region. We have also analyzed the mineral exports flows from Latin America for 2013. Results show that half of the mineral production from LA-20 was mainly exported. High-quality minerals, such as, gold, silver, and aluminum were largely exported to China and the United States. Extraction of high-quality minerals also implies higher losses of natural stock and environmental overburdens in the region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
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Open AccessArticle
Peace with Hunger: Colombia’s Checkered Experience with Post-Conflict Sustainable Community Development in Emerald-Mining Regions
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 504; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020504 - 13 Feb 2018
Cited by 8
Abstract
The interactions between conflict and local development has puzzled scholars and practitioners alike. This article explores why the advent of peace in Colombia’s emerald-mining regions for the past few years, as well as a broader national peace process, has not delivered the expected [...] Read more.
The interactions between conflict and local development has puzzled scholars and practitioners alike. This article explores why the advent of peace in Colombia’s emerald-mining regions for the past few years, as well as a broader national peace process, has not delivered the expected development dividends among mining communities. We contrast differences in stakeholders’ perceptions between levels of governance (local, regional and national). Based on the research, we conclude that while stakeholder collaboration is successful at the regional and national levels of governance, it fails at the local level. While peace has allowed an increase in mainstream business investment in mining, this has concentrated production in a few hands leading to a deterioration in many aspects of community livelihoods and wealth distribution. There has been a shift in the concentration of wealth and production from traditional elites to large companies. Communities noted a loss of collective assets and lack of community and institutional capacity to overcome pressing issues in a post-conflict market economy that favors those who control capital and technology. Based on an evaluation of community perceptions through a focus group methodology, this study recommends ways to prepare and better coordinate stakeholders to engage with complex relationships, and protect community assets in a collaborative governance scenario. This research suggests that political reconciliation processes amid complex resource geographies require greater devolution and community engagement on post-conflict economic development during the peace process itself. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainability-Oriented Innovation in the Minerals Industry: An Empirical Study on the Effect of Non-Geographical Proximity Dimensions
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 282; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010282 - 22 Jan 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Minerals mining and processing companies (hereinafter referred to as “minerals industry”) face the increasing demand for a comprehensive approach towards innovations aimed at sustainability. While the ability to learn from external sources of knowledge is at the core of this process, lack of [...] Read more.
Minerals mining and processing companies (hereinafter referred to as “minerals industry”) face the increasing demand for a comprehensive approach towards innovations aimed at sustainability. While the ability to learn from external sources of knowledge is at the core of this process, lack of geographical proximity and multiplicity of external sources impose challenges for mineral companies in this respect. The present study proposes that organizational, institutional and cognitive proximities could provide a platform for this industry to overcome those challenges, thereby achieving a superior innovation performance across various sustainability dimensions. Results of an analysis based on a sample of 101 mineral companies in Norway reveal that these dimensions of proximity are conducive to process, product and social innovation in different ways. More specifically, organizational proximity (diversity of non-local collaborations) and informal institutional proximity (shared cultural norms and values) spur social innovation. Furthermore, formal institutional proximity (similarity of rules and laws) and cognitive proximity (familiarity of knowledge base) support both process and product innovations. This paper provides some insights on the determinants of innovation in sustainability contexts, and contributes to the recent debate on the role of non-spatial proximity dimensions for innovation in the peripheral regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
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Open AccessArticle
What Is the Relationship between Technological Innovation and Energy Consumption? Empirical Analysis Based on Provincial Panel Data from China
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010145 - 09 Jan 2018
Cited by 14
Abstract
This paper investigates the relationship between energy consumption and technological innovation using a dynamic panel data model and regional-level data from China for the period 1995–2012. In contrast to previous studies, it examines the short and long-run bilateral relationship between technological innovation and [...] Read more.
This paper investigates the relationship between energy consumption and technological innovation using a dynamic panel data model and regional-level data from China for the period 1995–2012. In contrast to previous studies, it examines the short and long-run bilateral relationship between technological innovation and energy consumption. The results show that in the short run, technological innovation leads to an increase in energy consumption, while energy consumption has no significant effect on technological innovation. In the long run, however, energy consumption is positively and bilaterally related to technological innovation. These findings suggest that although technological innovation does not directly lead to a reduction in energy consumption as mentioned in the extant literature, it could help achieve sustainability through improving energy efficiency and developing energy structure for developing countries. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
Open AccessArticle
Addressing “Wicked Problems” through Governance for Sustainable Development—A Comparative Analysis of National Mineral Policy Approaches in the European Union
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1830; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9101830 - 12 Oct 2017
Cited by 4
Abstract
The achievement of sustainable development (SD) in the supply of minerals poses significant challenges for governments and public administrations on all levels, because ensuring a sustainable supply constitutes a “wicked” problem that has no clear set of alternative solutions due to its social, [...] Read more.
The achievement of sustainable development (SD) in the supply of minerals poses significant challenges for governments and public administrations on all levels, because ensuring a sustainable supply constitutes a “wicked” problem that has no clear set of alternative solutions due to its social, institutional and scientific complexities. This paper explores how this problem is addressed through “governance for SD” principles (horizontal policy integration and participation; long-term vision/short-term action; and reflexivity and learning) in the design and delivery of national mineral policy strategies (NMS) in five EU Member States (Austria, Finland, Greece, Portugal and Sweden). Following a grounded theory approach on data collected through document analysis and complementary qualitative interviews, the author identified several analytical categories for the selected governance for SD’ principles. Although no “one-size-fits-all” recipe for best practice on governance for SD exists in the five NMS, Finland, Portugal and Sweden meet high standards: These NMS display practical examples of governance for SD integration and, thus, lay the foundations for achieving policy outcomes in the sectoral policy strategies of the mineral supply. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
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Open AccessCase Report
Engineering Perspectives and Environmental Life Cycle Optimization to Enhance Aggregate Mining in Vietnam
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 525; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020525 - 15 Feb 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
Cleaner Production (CP) addresses precautionary, site-specific environmental measures to reduce emissions and assess resource efficiency potentials at the point of origin by analyzing operational material and energy flows. The approach is generally based on the criteria quality as well as environmental/occupational health and [...] Read more.
Cleaner Production (CP) addresses precautionary, site-specific environmental measures to reduce emissions and assess resource efficiency potentials at the point of origin by analyzing operational material and energy flows. The approach is generally based on the criteria quality as well as environmental/occupational health and safety, and promotes their integration. The paper presents options for applying CP to aggregate mining, based on a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and illustrated by results from a study of small-scale industrial aggregate mining in Hoa Binh Province (Vietnam). The regulatory framework to limit the impact of mining on the environment is largely comparable to international standards and is suitably enforced. Despite gaining experience through the practical handling of enforcement procedures over the long term, there is still a considerable potential to optimize CP strategies in Vietnam’s aggregate mining industry. This is shown by the results of a survey of aggregates mining companies in Hoa Binh Province as well as on-site data collection to determine the technological characteristics of production facilities alongside economic and environmental factors. The assessment of the survey is supported by LCA results for: (a) the existing situation; and (b) the scenario of a merging of companies, undertaken to improve the resource efficiency of the aggregate mining in Hoa Binh. Findings can help implement an integrated approach to foster the sustainable mining of building aggregates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability in the Mining, Minerals and Energy Industries)
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