Development of an integrated model for sustainability assessment of a new “Smart Mining Technology”

Development of an integrated model for sustainability assessment of a new “Smart Mining Technology”

Katharina Rosin, Jiangxue Liu, Jan Bongaerts, Mariia Rochikashvili

TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Germany

The steadily growing population and the rapid industrialization of emerging countries lead to a strongly growing demand for mineral materials including fluorite, copper and other strategic metals. As one of the leading industrial countries, Germany consumes a large amount of min-eral raw materials. To reduce the dependency on imports of raw materials, Germany started a new development of its domestic mineral deposits. However, most deposits in Germany are small, located in great depths with difficult access and in complicated surroundings. Hence, conventional mining operation methods may not be feasible due to technological and econom-ic restrictions. In order to meet the major challenges and opportunities of this future minerals supply, a new highly-automated “Smart Mining Technology” –SMT– technology for high selectivity in min-ing and for consecutive processing is now in development, which integrates all relevant issues and knowledges related to mineralogy, geotechnics, mining engineering, remote sensing and automation and, finally, minerals processing. It must be especially allow for the extraction of minerals from small deposits as described above. For establishment of this technology, already at the stage of emergence, it is important to identify and assess its economic feasibility, its environmental impacts and its impacts on stakeholders. For this purpose, an “economic-techno-enviro-socio evaluation model” is developed. The ma-jor objectives of the research work can be defined as follows: (1) developing a method to es-timate mining and processing costs of SMT, (2) developing a method for estimating the bene-fit of a mining project using an particular mining technology, (3) providing a basis for deci-sion-making on the adoption of SMT in comparison with other mining technologies. The eco-logical, technical, economic and social parameters generate an overall benefit resulting from Quality Function Development, Life Cycle Analysis and stakeholder management approaches. Results of the calculation are further used as inputs into an optimization model.