The worldwide move to introduce more automation into underground metal ore mining is currently aimed at improving both operational productivity and safety. We have used a comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) as a novel approach for the industry to determine the beneficial impacts automation can also have on environmental performance using data collected on mine site productivity and energy consumption. The LCA looked at four impact categories: global warming potential, acidification, eutrophication, and human toxicity. When comparing key automated equipment to their traditional manual counterpart, all four impact categories experienced a reduction with automation and a subsequent improvement in sustainability performance. Global warming potential, for example, decreased by 18.3% over the mine life period, or 3.7 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq.) per tonne of ore extracted. Environmental impact reductions were due primarily to lower diesel fuel consumption in the loading and haulage processes as well as a 27% shorter operational mine life leading to less years of mine and mine camp maintenance.
Moreau, Kyle; Laamanen, Corey; Bose, Ron; Shang, Helen; and Scott, John A.
"Life cycle assessment to demonstrate how automation improves the sustainability performance of an underground mining operation,"
Journal of Sustainable Mining: Vol. 19
, Article 4.
Available at: https://doi.org/10.46873/2300-3960.1016
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