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Design for Sustainability in the Minerals Sector

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Sustainability and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2024 | Viewed by 16683

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Mining & Explosives Engineering, Missouri University of Science & Technology, Rolla, 65409 MO, USA
Interests: sustainability; mining; critical minerals; modeling; simulation, and optimiztiaon; mineral management

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Guest Editor
College of River and Ocean Engineering, Chongqing Jiaotong University, Chongqing 400074, China
Interests: design for sustainability; community engagement; social license to operate; Sustainability; mining; simulation, and optimiztiaon

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last few decades, sustainability researchers have expanded concepts such as design for the environment and eco-design to include more social impacts, thus leading to the concept of design for sustainability (DfS). While mining sustainability researchers may not be using DfS directly, the global minerals sector and researchers who focus on mining sustainability are working on ways to better incorporate sustainability considerations into the design of mining systems and mine development plans. There is currently a keen interest in sustainability considerations in the minerals sector.

The relationship between sustainability and minerals has never been stronger. For example, the material needs for the transition to green energy to address climate change are significant, and those materials should be extracted in a sustainable manner. As we have depleted the easily accessible and high-grade deposits, new mines are increasingly in locations that are eco-sensitive and lack a history of mining, and they are encountering more socio-political resistance. Additionally, upstream users of mining products and investors are more socially conscious, demanding “cleaner” products. Thus, the implications of mine design and planning for sustainability outcomes and their connection to social license to operate have never been higher.

It is thus timely to have a Special Issue that synthesizes the current state-of-the-art and assembles innovative thinking on design for sustainability in the minerals sector. For this Special Issue, we invite paper contributions related to any of the topics outlined above that relate clearly to design for sustainability in the minerals sector. Some suggested topics include, but are not limited to, reviews or new contributions on:

  • Ways in which mine planning and design can include sustainability
  • Sustainability considerations in designing mining systems and mine development
  • Life cycle assessment, sustainability assessment, social license to operate, community engagement, etc., and how they relate to the mining operation
  • Sustainable mine closure and post-mining land-use selection
  • Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues in mine management
  • Sustainability reporting and ESG disclosures
  • Technology that facilitates sustainable mining, such as coal bed gas recovery and reuse, post-mining underground space reuse, tailings management, and worker health and safety design, including mine emergency response

Prof. Dr. Kwame Awuah-Offei
Prof. Dr. Que Sisi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • design for sustainability
  • mining and metals
  • community engagement
  • circular economy
  • social license to operate
  • mine design and planning
  • project evaluation
  • permitting

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

17 pages, 1915 KiB  
Article
Discrete Choice Experiment Consideration: A Framework for Mining Community Consultation with Case Studies
by Sisi Que, Yu Huang, Kwame Awuah-Offei, Liang Wang and Songlin Liu
Sustainability 2023, 15(17), 13070; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151713070 - 30 Aug 2023
Viewed by 1129
Abstract
Local community acceptance, a key indicator of the socio-political risk of a project, is addressed through good stakeholder (community) engagement. Discrete choice modeling (DCM) enhances stakeholder analysis and has been widely applied to encourage community engagement in energy projects. However, very little detail [...] Read more.
Local community acceptance, a key indicator of the socio-political risk of a project, is addressed through good stakeholder (community) engagement. Discrete choice modeling (DCM) enhances stakeholder analysis and has been widely applied to encourage community engagement in energy projects. However, very little detail is provided on how researchers design discrete choice experiments (DCEs). DCE design is the key step for effective and efficient data collection. Without this, the discrete choice model may not be meaningful and may be misleading in the local community engagement effort. This paper presents a framework for mining community engagement DCE design in an attempt to determine (1) how to identify the optimum number of factors and (2) how to design and validate the DCE design. Case studies for designing discrete choice experiments for community acceptance of mining projects are applied to accommodate these two objectives. The results indicate that the four-factor design, which seeks to reduce cognitive burden and costs, is the optimal choice. A survey was used to examine the difficulty of the survey questions and the clarity of the instructions for the designs. It has, therefore, been proven that the DCM design is of reasonable cognitive burden. The results of this study will contribute to a better design of choice experiments (surveys) for discrete choice modeling, leading to better policies for sustainable energy resource development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design for Sustainability in the Minerals Sector)
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12 pages, 1287 KiB  
Article
Sustainability of the Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining in Northeast Antioquia-Colombia
by Óscar Jaime Restrepo Baena and Luis Enrique Martínez Mendoza
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9345; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13169345 - 20 Aug 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2491
Abstract
The aim of this work is to explain the concepts of sustainability with respect to small artisanal gold mining. For this, a qualitative approach with a descriptive scope was used, for which the bibliographic review technique was conducted. In this sense, articles, theses, [...] Read more.
The aim of this work is to explain the concepts of sustainability with respect to small artisanal gold mining. For this, a qualitative approach with a descriptive scope was used, for which the bibliographic review technique was conducted. In this sense, articles, theses, books and institutional documents, and any contribution related to the research topic were taken into consideration. Likewise, this documentation contributed to the delimiting aspects that allowed a contrast between the proposed definitions and small artisanal mining in the Northeast Antioquia region in Colombia. Based on the reviewed sources, different needs were recognized in artisanal small-scale gold mining in Northeast Antioquia that still need action. In conclusion, through the exposition of sustainability theories, three common factors were identified within the various positions that were raised—the environmental, economic, and sociocultural dimensions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design for Sustainability in the Minerals Sector)
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37 pages, 3766 KiB  
Article
A Data-Driven Approach to Evaluation of Sustainability Reporting Practices in Extractive Industries
by Cansu Perdeli Demirkan, Nicole M. Smith, H. Sebnem Duzgun and Aurora Waclawski
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8716; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168716 - 4 Aug 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 3734
Abstract
Sustainability reporting is one of the tools that contribute to incorporating sustainable development in the design of extractive operations (i.e., “Design for Sustainability”), and the demand for sustainability reports is increasing due to the increased focus on sustainable development and sustainable financing efforts. [...] Read more.
Sustainability reporting is one of the tools that contribute to incorporating sustainable development in the design of extractive operations (i.e., “Design for Sustainability”), and the demand for sustainability reports is increasing due to the increased focus on sustainable development and sustainable financing efforts. The extractive industries are believed to have unique strengths to contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Nonetheless, companies are expected to be transparent and accountable not only to investors but to all stakeholders, including communities, suppliers, clients, employees, and governments. Therefore, extractive industries require effective sustainability accounting and reporting to transition and contribute to sustainable development. Through a data-driven approach, this paper examines the scope and consistency of sustainability indicators used in the sustainability reports of eight oil and gas and eight mining companies from 2012 to 2018. Through content analysis and relevant statistical methods, we analyze the ways in which companies reported on their contributions to sustainable development, with a focus on indicators used and trends over time both within each industry and between industries. We demonstrate that extractive industries’ sustainability reporting practices are not consistent over time and that internal issues are better represented than external issues, in particular transportation and supply chain issues. Furthermore, while there are similar trends across the industries in terms of social and environmental indicator reporting, there are significant differences in economic reporting. We conclude that although both industries have established sustainability reporting practices, there are trends that demonstrate what companies are focusing on more, as well as areas for improvement. We see this as an initial step for conceptualizing how these industries can more objectively, consistently, and effectively assess and contribute to sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design for Sustainability in the Minerals Sector)
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15 pages, 3451 KiB  
Article
Evaluating Mine Design Alternatives for Social Risks Using Discrete Choice Analysis
by Kwame Awuah-Offei, Sisi Que and Atta Ur Rehman
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 8700; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13168700 - 4 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2195
Abstract
As with other engineering design tasks, mine design involves setting design objectives and constraints (the feasible solution space) and finding the optimal design alternative. Mine engineers often struggle to incorporate the preferences of local community members into their evaluation of mine design alternatives [...] Read more.
As with other engineering design tasks, mine design involves setting design objectives and constraints (the feasible solution space) and finding the optimal design alternative. Mine engineers often struggle to incorporate the preferences of local community members into their evaluation of mine design alternatives because the mining literature lacks tools to quantify such risks during mine planning. This paper presents an approach to evaluate community acceptance (i.e., community preferences for the alternatives) using discrete choice models and decision-based design during mine planning. Using discrete choice models and a rigorous framework, engineers can estimate the cost of social risks as a function of the probability that individuals in the host community will prefer a particular design alternative. They can then estimate the overall utility of a particular design alternative to the project proponents. This paper illustrates the proposed approach with a strategic mine planning exercise for a gold mine. The framework can be a useful tool for designing mines for sustainability, if combined with effective community engagement and management’s commitment to creating shared value. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design for Sustainability in the Minerals Sector)
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16 pages, 1749 KiB  
Article
Water Footprint Assessment of Carbon in Pulp Gold Processing in Turkey
by Emre Güney and Nuray Demirel
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8497; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158497 - 29 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2245
Abstract
This paper presents water the footprint assessment (WFA) of carbon in pulp (CIP) gold processing. The main objectives of the study are determining grey and blue water footprints and identifying the hotspots of the process. Results revealed that the total blue water footprint, [...] Read more.
This paper presents water the footprint assessment (WFA) of carbon in pulp (CIP) gold processing. The main objectives of the study are determining grey and blue water footprints and identifying the hotspots of the process. Results revealed that the total blue water footprint, including the extraction and processing of the gold, was found to be 452.40 m3/kg Au, and the grey WF to be 2300.69 m3/kg Au. According to the results, the lost return flow on the direct blue WF side has the largest contribution, with a value of 260.61 m3/kg Au, and the only source of the lost return flow is the tailing pond. On the indirect side, it is seen that the oxygen consumption used for the leaching process has the highest value, with 37.38 m3/kg. Among the nine contaminants in the mine tailings, the critical component responsible for the grey water footprint is by far arsenic, with a value of 1777 m3/kg Au. The results will be used to make recommendations for reducing water consumption in mining operations, for a better design for the environment. The study is a pioneering study, being the first implementation of water footprint assessment in a gold mine in Turkey. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design for Sustainability in the Minerals Sector)
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23 pages, 1564 KiB  
Article
A Fuzzy-AHP Methodology for Planning the Risk Management of Natural Hazards in Surface Mining Projects
by Philip-Mark Spanidis, Christos Roumpos and Francis Pavloudakis
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2369; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042369 - 22 Feb 2021
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 3270
Abstract
Surface mining projects are vulnerable to natural hazards (earthquakes, floods, soil instabilities, and epidemic crises) which constitute the primary source of risks which affect the mining operations. In the framework of sustainable planning and development of such projects, the investigation of risk impacts [...] Read more.
Surface mining projects are vulnerable to natural hazards (earthquakes, floods, soil instabilities, and epidemic crises) which constitute the primary source of risks which affect the mining operations. In the framework of sustainable planning and development of such projects, the investigation of risk impacts is essential for taking the appropriate preventive measures before disastrous events appear in a mine. This paper proposes a methodology for the risk assessment of natural hazards in surface mining projects using the triangular Fuzzy Analytical Hierarchy Process (FAHP) for the determination of the probability of risk occurrence, combined with the Expected Value (EV) function, the Monte Carlo simulation, and the Program Evaluation Review Technique PERT method for making predictions of cost and time overruns. A case study of a hazardous event with impacts in the operations of a surface mine demonstrates the methodology as a flexible and low-cost tool for mining executives. This tool is useful in the planning stage of pre-disaster management projects in the mineral industry, considering mine sustainability views. The research work also investigates critical technical and economic aspects. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Design for Sustainability in the Minerals Sector)
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