Life cycle assessment of off-highway trucks and belt conveyors for sustainable mining

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2011
Erkayaoğlu, Mustafa
In recent years increasing growth rate of all industrial fields generated an emerging energy demand and consequent environmental problems worldwide. Defining environmental profiles of products and systems using environmental tools, such as Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), is a critical issue for sustainable mining. In order to tackle the increasing environmental challenges and air emissions induced by surface coal mining, alternative material handling options are needed to be evaluated. This research study aims to provide a robust LCA model in selection of the alternative material haulage systems as a decision support system. The main objectives of this thesis study are: i) contributing to the national archived data by gathering data about haulage systems from an open pit coal mine, ii) constructing life cycle inventory from the acquired environmental data, iii) performing life cycle assessment of both material haulage systems in an open pit coal mine according to their environmental burdens, iv) conducting uncertainty assessment, and v) suggesting improvement in stages where emissions are critical. In order to accomplish these objectives, comparative LCA from cradle-to-grave was carried out in SIMAPRO 7.3 to determine life cycle environmental impacts of off-highway mining trucks and belt conveyors in coal transportation. Climate change and acidification were selected as major impact categories considered to be major concerns in mining industry. The results of this study revealed that off-highway trucks had 1.9 times greater impact on acidification category than belt conveyors, on the other hand, belt conveyors had 1.6 times greater impact on climate change. NOx emissions caused 96 percent of the acidification impact. CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion led to 95 percent of the climate change effect. The obtained results also indicated that the highest impact on all selected impact categories were generated from the utilization stage of the trucks operated by diesel oil and utilization of belt conveyor systems operated by electricity. The main novelty of this study is that it is one of the first LCA studies in the Turkish mining industry where considerable amount of emissions occur due to material handling. This study also advances the current knowledge about environmentally critical processes in material handling systems and places recommendations for both alternatives aiming better decision making. The results of the study are expected to provide a decision support system for the mining industry.

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Citation Formats
M. Erkayaoğlu, “Life cycle assessment of off-highway trucks and belt conveyors for sustainable mining,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2011.