Sustainability in the Extractive Industry

Development of systems for assessing the sustainability of the resource extraction

Basis for a sustainability audit

The secure supply of raw materials for further economic and social development is of great importance, especially for an import-dependent country like Germany. However, the extraction of raw materials has a significant environmental impact, together with some far-reaching economic and social consequences in the respective country. Introducing the concept of a sustainable development to the extractive industry, there is the main task of securing the supply of an evolving global population by the efficient and frugal use of resources, without compromising the availabilities of future generations or the viability or survival of existing and future systems in question.

In order to be able to make statements regarding the sustainability of resource extraction and to provide a foundation for a national sustainable development strategy, the Department of Mining Engineering I in collaboration with the engineering company Zerna, Köpper & Partners developed an sustainable development assessment system. This will make the requirements for a sustainable resource economy measurable and allow an objective comparative assessment of different raw material production processes. The system is based on the adaption and development of indicators of existing internationally recognized parameters, adapted to the special conditions of the extraction of raw materials and supplemented with a description, analysis and comparison of current production processes.

The procedure can generally be broken down into six steps:

  • Installation of the process chain of commodity production and its actors
  • Analysis and classification of the individual process steps
  • Selection of appropriate sustainability indicators
  • Development of an overall system
  • Risk-reward analysis and assessment of measures
  • Development of a sustainability audit


Erarbeitung eines Nachhaltigkeits-Audits
Erarbeitung eines Nachhaltigkeits-Audits


P.N. Martens, S. Möllerherm, J.B. Pateiro Fernández, E. Drüppel, C. Pieper, M. Mohlfeld:
Entwicklung von Beurteilungssystemen für die Nachhaltigkeit bei der Rohstoffgewinnung

Key data

  • Level: industry

Research Group(s)