The Asia Miner

JUL-SEP 2018

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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the asia miner • volume 15 • issue 3 26 WASTE TO ENERGY The point has been made in previous arঞcles in The ASIA Miner magazine, that sustainable development cannot occur unless something happens in pracঞce. Certainly, theory and research are fundamentally important but in themselves, they are ineffectual unless the results are used to change things for the beer. Sustainable development generally requires sound, appropriate informaঞon. Generaঞng such informaঞon will likely be an enormously complicated task, even when it is seemingly quite simple. This is principally why a significant part of Industrial Ecology (IE) focuses on developing methods to generate informaঞon and on applying those methods to real-world situaঞons. The process entails gathering relevant data, analysing them accurately and then generaঞng from the analyses the informaঞon needed to address the issues of interest. INFORMATION PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES Depending on the purpose in mind, various techniques for producing informaঞon are used in IE. Materials Flow Analysis (MFA), and its close relaঞon Input / Output analysis (I/O), aempt to assess the quanঞty and fate of resources flowing through a 'system' such as a factory, a mine site or an economy. The resources might be materials, energy or water. For MFA, data are usually recorded in the dimensions of physical quanঞঞes, for example, tonnes, megajoules or kilolitres. For I/O, however, the unit of measurement is generally currency. In other words, the value of the resources being measured is used as a proxy for physical flows. Whether the proxy is reliable or not is debatable. Ulঞmately, what determines sustainable The industrial ecology of explosives will blow your mind By Dr Robin Branson PhD, MBA, BSc. (Hons), Director Australian Industrial Ecology Network development is physical change. Environmental Foot Print Analysis (EFPA), in its several different forms, yields informaঞon on how the environment is affected by human acঞviঞes. They may be, for example, the effects of agriculture, urbanisaঞon, transport, fishing or mining; considered at various scales and normalised to the uniform parameter of global hectares. Other analyঞcal techniques used in IE, such as Systems Analysis and Network Analysis, have been adopted from other disciplines. No maer what type of analysis is used, deciding on the extent of the boundaries within which it is to be performed, the scope and scale of data required and the 'externaliঞes' – that is data, features and characterisঞcs to be excluded from an analysis – are vexaঞous consideraঞons. Nonetheless, they criঞcally influence the results. MINING AND LCA Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a case in point and although subject to conঞnuing theoreঞcal development, it is now widely used in pracঞce. It aims to assess the impact that the subject of assessment, for example ammonium nitrate fuel oil (ANFO), has on the environment during its journey, or some part of it, from 'cradle to grave' and perhaps beyond. As in similar types of analysis, LCA is used in relaঞon to specific elements of the life cycle, such as the energy required, the water consumpঞon or atmospheric polluঞon. Mine workers might have occasionally marvelled at the effect of detonaঞng ANFO, especially when 'flyrock' hits something it shouldn't but, unsurprising, many in the mining industry will probably not have pondered the environmental impact of producing ANFO. Most people are unlikely to think in such terms about items they take for granted in their daily lives, even if they were familiar with the techniques of LCA. As it turns out, LCAs of ANFO are rare.

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