Title: Measuring the specific land requirements of large-scale metal mines for iron, bauxite, copper, gold and silver

Authors: Diego I. Murguía; Stefan Bringezu

Addresses: Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy GmbH, Döppersberg 19, 42103 Wuppertal, Germany; Agency for International Minerals Policy (MinPol), 2753 Dreistetten, No 120/1, Austria ' Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy GmbH, Döppersberg 19, 42103 Wuppertal, Germany; Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR), Wilhelmshöher Allee 47, 34119 Kassel, Germany

Abstract: The amount of land directly disturbed by mining is a key generic environmental pressure indicator. A novel method based on the measurement of the cumulative net area disturbances using Landsat satellite images and its correlation with the cumulative ore production at the mine site was applied. Weighted disturbance rates (WDRs) were calculated indicating the annual quantity of hectares newly disturbed per million metric tons of ore extracted. Results show that open pit (OP) have a smaller average WDR (5.05 ha/Mt) than underground (UG) mines (11.85 ha/Mt). This is explained by the relation between the annual amounts of new net area disturbed and of ore extracted which is larger for UG than for OP mines due to the annual extraction volume (lower for UG). Overall findings demonstrate that bauxite mining has the highest WDR (7.98 ha/Mt), followed by gold (6.70 ha/Mt), silver (5.53 ha/Mt), copper (4.5 ha/Mt) and iron (4.25 ha/Mt).

Keywords: material flows; land use; cumulative net area disturbances; Landsat satellite images; remote sensing; mining footprint; metals; open pit mines; underground mines; cumulative ore extraction; nonlinear regression; allocation; land requirements; large-scale mines; metal mines; iron; bauxite; copper; gold; silver; mining industry; environmental pressure indicators; environmental impact.

DOI: 10.1504/PIE.2016.082142

Progress in Industrial Ecology, An International Journal, 2016 Vol.10 No.2/3, pp.264 - 285

Received: 02 Nov 2015
Accepted: 26 Apr 2016

Published online: 08 Feb 2017 *

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