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 27 WASTE TO ENERGY The environmental impacts of producing ANFO REFERENCES: 1 Brent, GF. "Greenhouse gas implicaঞons of explosives and blasঞng", Rock Fragmentaon by Blasng, Sanchidrian (ed) 2010, Taylor and Francis Group, London, pp 673-681 2 Ferreira, C., Freire, F., Ribeiro J. "Life-cycle assessment of a civil explosive", Journal of Cleaner Producon 89 (2014), pp 159- 164 3 Brochu, S. Assessment of ANFO on the environment, Technical Memorandum Defence R&D Canada, Valcarঞer TM 2009-195, January 2010 One done by GF Brent (1) is, however, a good illustraঞon of the approach applied in pracঞce. It assesses the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the producঞon and use of ANFO. The detail of greatest significance is the clear indicaঞon that the producঞon of ammonium nitrate emits by far the most GHG, in the form of nitrous oxide (dinitrogen monoxide; N 2 O). This was also the conclusion drawn by Ferreira et at from a purely academic study in 2014 (2) . The reason this is so significant is that the whole point of understanding environmental impacts is to work out how to eliminate them, or at least miঞgate the damage they cause. In the case of ANFO producঞon, the most effecঞve way to do that is to tackle that part of its life cycle, which produces the most GHG. That is exactly what the explosives industry did. As Brent menঞons in his arঞcle, abatement technologies were developed, based on various catalyঞc systems, which reduced N 2 0 emissions by 99% of the levels before abatement. There remains, however, the issue of dealing with the effects of using ANFO, which may be more intractable. They can occur a[er detonaঞon (beyond their grave, so to speak) or result from poor or failed detonaঞon. Published research by Defence R&D Canada (3) gives a synopsis of these effects, most of which relate to the solubility of ammonia (NH 3) in water, such as eutrophicaঞon and phytodegradaঞon. Airborne polluঞon a[er an explosion, for example, red or yellow clouds, may seem to disperse rapidly but can seemingly have long-term consequences, like acid rain. I had hoped to find an LCA of the energy required to produce ANFO. Unfortunately, no luck so far. It would be interesঞng to know how the energy required compares with the energy content of ANFO, which seems to be typically about 4Mj/kg. If the energy required were significantly more than the energy content, it might have interesঞng implicaঞons for the sustainability of mining in the long term. Perhaps such an LCA would provide impetus to develop a solar powered, environmentally neutral explosive? Just a thought … theory and research are fundamentally important but in themselves, they are ineffectual unless the results are used to change things for the better

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