Efficient Exploitation of Mineral Deposits
Developing an evaluation system for an efficient and sustainable exploitation of mineral deposits
Natural resources are the basis of human existence and can be found at the beginning of every production process. However, their occurrences are limited, especially those technical accessible. In order to realize a more sustainable utilization of natural resources, increasing Resource Efficiency has been identified to be an important measure. A holistic view on Resource Efficiency needs to cover the entire value chain of a product, which not only consists of industrial production but also includes mining of mineral resources.
“Primary Resource Efficiency” in this context means the sustainable mining through efficient exploitation of mineral deposits. Increasing a deposit’s degree of utilization (recovery) can result in a higher consumption of other resources like energy or water. Therefore, in order to align the exploitation of mineral deposits with sustainable development, different goals have to be considered and weighted.
The Institute of Mineral Resources Engineering conducted a research project to develop methods to asses and evaluate the efficiency of deposit utilization by mining operations, considering key parameters of mine planning and common performance indicators.
The following questions were used as an outline throughout the project:
- How to define a resource optimized utilization of mineral deposits?
- Are there “hot spots” of inefficient utilization patterns to be identified?
- How will an increase in energy and material efficiency influence an overall socio-economic evaluation? What is the link to sustainable development?
- Is the current policy framework suitable to promote Resource Efficiency within existing mining operations and on a global level?