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Environmental impact of mining-associated carbon emissions and analysis of cleaner production strategies in China

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In recent years, concern has been increasing regarding the carbon emissions generated by mining activities. China is an extremely large coal producer (3695 Mt/2015) and consumer (3698 Mt/2015), and Shanxi Province (i.e., a major coal-producing province in China) is a crucial element in China’s energy conservation and emission reduction goals. In this study, the Pingshuo mining area (PMA) in Shanxi Province was chosen as a case to analyze the dynamic changes in carbon emissions based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) method, and the factors influencing carbon emissions were analyzed via the IPAT equation. Carbon emission sources in opencast mines mainly included fuel and explosive use, coal mine methane escape, coal and gangue spontaneous combustion, and electricity consumption. The carbon emission of the PMA increased from 4 × 104 Mg in 1986 to 1.05 × 106 Mg in 2015, with an average annual increase of 11.64%. In the PMA, 4.71 × 106 Mg of carbon emissions from fuel consumption accounted for 41.79% of carbon emissions, and 5.26 × 106 Mg of carbon emissions from methane emissions accounted for 46.66%. Carbon emissions from explosives and electricity use were 4.1 × 105 Mg and 8.8 × 105 Mg, respectively. In this mining area, the factors influencing carbon emissions included population, GDP, and coal output. The results of this study not only provide a reference for cleaner production in mining areas but also lay a foundation for the study of global opencast coal mining carbon emissions.

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We also thank China Coal Pingshuo Group Co., Ltd. for its strong support.


The study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFF0206802).

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Zhongke Bai designed the research. Boyu Yang and Junjie Zhang performed research and analyzed data. Boyu Yang drafted the initial manuscript. Zhongke Bai revised and approved the manuscript.

All authors gave final approval for publication.

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Correspondence to Zhongke Bai.

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Yang, B., Bai, Z. & Zhang, J. Environmental impact of mining-associated carbon emissions and analysis of cleaner production strategies in China. Environ Sci Pollut Res 28, 13649–13659 (2021).

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