Towards zero waste production in the minerals and metals sector
The production of mineral and metal commodities results in large quantities of wastes (solid, liquid and gaseous) at each stage of value-adding — from mining to manufacturing. Waste production (both consumer and non-consumer) is a major contributor to environmental degradation. Approaches to waste management in the minerals industry are largely ‘after the event’. These have moved progressively from foul-and-flee to dilute-and-disperse to end end-of-pipe treatments. There is now a need to move to approaches which aim to reduce or eliminate waste production at source. Modern waste management strategies include the application of cleaner production principles, the use of wastes as raw materials, the reengineering of process flowsheets to minimise waste production, and use of industrial symbioses through industrial ecology to convert wastes into useful by-products. This paper examines how these can be adopted by the minerals industry, with some recent examples. The financial, technical, systemic and regulatory drivers and barriers are also examined.
Keywordsprimary metals mineral wastes cleaner production industrial ecology
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