Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Energy and greenhouse gas impacts of mining and mineral processing operations

Life cycle assessments of the mining and mineral processing of iron ore, bauxite and copper concentrate have been carried out by workers at Australia's CSIRO and the results published in Journal of Cleaner Production.

The work focussed on embodied energy and greenhouse gas emissions. The results showed that loading and hauling make the largest contributions to the total greenhouse gas emissions for the mining and processing of iron ore and bauxite. In the case of copper ore, the crushing and grinding steps make the largest contribution to the total greenhouse gas emissions for the production of copper concentrate. These results indicate that efforts to reduce the increased greenhouse gas emissions from mining and mineral processing, anticipated in the future as a result of falling ore grades and more finer-grained deposits, should focus on loading and hauling for iron ore and bauxite, while for copper ore the focus should be on grinding. There are a number of new and emerging technologies that could be expected to assist in this task, and these include high pressure grinding rolls and stirred mills for grinding, areas which will be explored in April's Comminution '10 conference in Cape Town.

Emerging technologies to combat CO2 emissions is also one of the themes of Climate Change and the Minerals Industry '11.

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