Water Withdrawals, CO2 Emissions and Land Use of Bauxite, Copper, Gold and Iron Ore Production: A general Review and Appraisal for the Year 2016

Benjamin Bayer

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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While the environmental impact of metal mining is increasing, the quality of environmental analysis is stagnating. Reporting and thus sustainability analysis have not improved in the same way as the demand for resources is increasing. Overall, the environmental impact compared to other industries is low. Technological development counteracts the environmental impact due to increasing resource demand. Because the sites with the most favourable conditions are becoming less and less, the shift to the exploitation of less favourable deposits and the associated higher technical complexity leads to an alarming situation. With the higher effort, the environmental impact also increases. It is becoming increasingly important to be able to obtain more accurate results of global environmental impacts. The current and past methodology is no longer sufficient. Current reporting standards cannot meet the need to make environmental analyses comparable. The unsatisfactory data situation leads to problems faced by authors trying to assess the environmental impact of metal mining. Only transparent corporate-level reporting can lead to comparable quantitative environmental values in order to estimate an global impact that can be tracked over time with reasonable effort. This would require location-specific effort in the measurement and the calculation. The results should be reported summarized in a meaningful and transparent way in annual reports. Environmental impacts should be clearly attributable to a product. This kind of transparency would be an important step towards a more sustainable metal industry. The summary of publications in this area leads to the conclusion that the current methodology has reached its limit and the results of publications vary by a factor of 3 for water withdrawals and CO2 emissions and by a factor of 2 for land use. In this thesis, values from literature are analysed for comparability and the mean values are used for further calculations if more than one data point is available. Water withdrawals for bauxite, copper, gold and iron ore are within a range of 3705 to 5726 Mm³. CO2 emissions are within a range of 149.6 to 233 Mt. Land use for mining activities is within a range of 279 to 357 km².
Translated title of the contributionWasserentnahme, CO2-Emissionen und Flächennutzung der Bauxit-, Kupfer-, Gold- und Eisenerzproduktion: Eine generelle Überprüfung und Beurteilung für das Jahr 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Montanuniversität
  • Moser, Peter, Supervisor (internal)
Award date12 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

embargoed until null


  • environmental impact of mining
  • bauxite mining
  • copper mining
  • iron ore mining
  • gold mining
  • co2 emissions
  • water withdrawals
  • land use

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