Water footprint assessment of mining and processing of gold

Güney, Emre
Water management in mining industry has strategic importance due to the increasing water scarcity. Water Footprint Assessment (WFA) is a systematic way that provides an assessment of sustainable water management from multiple perspectives. The main objective of this study is to analyse the water footprint of mining and processing of gold and identifying hotspots of carbon in pulp (CIP) gold processing using WFA and life cycle assessment (LCA). In this study, after determining the goal and scope, data was collected for these definitions, the process facility was designed, and the hotspots were determined after calculations were made with LCA and WFA methodologies. At the last stage, response formulations were shared. The results obtained from this research revealed that the lost return flow has the largest contribution on the blue water footprint (WF), with a value of 260.61 m3/kg Au, and the only source of the lost return flow is found to be the tailing pond. Among the indirect water footprint values, Oxygen which is used in leaching operation to increase the rate of gold dissolution has the highest value with 37.38 m3/kg. In addition, the critical component responsible from the grey WF is found to be the use of Arsenic, with a value of 1,777 m3/kg Au. Blue WF was found as 357.32 m3/kg according to LCA methodology and diesel made the highest contribution to the indirect blue WF with 12.5 m3/kg Au. Climate change human health is the most affected category in this study. The results obtained from this study could be used to make recommendations for reducing the amount of water consumed, and therefore, the negative impacts on the environment. The result of the study is expected to contribute to mineral industry by providing a systematic approach towards better water management and thus more sustainable mining.


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Citation Formats
E. Güney, “Water footprint assessment of mining and processing of gold,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2022.