Water shows its worth
At an average value of $80 per cubic metre, the economic value of water used by the minerals industry is higher than that of the industrial sector (averaging about $40/m³) and the agricultural industry (averaging about $5/m³).
The economic comparisons were calculated using life cycle assessment (LCA), a method of analysing the environmental impacts of a process or product from ‘the cradle to grave’ to optimise environmental performance.
By using LCA methodology, CSIRO Minerals researcher Terry Norgate was able to assess variations in water use associated with different metal production and processing routes and also provide insights into the value derived from water consumption.
“This is how we were able to compare various industries and the value gained from water consumption,” he says.
Mr Norgate says the LCA work shows it is worthwhile to allocate water to the minerals industry. “By showing the value in water consumption, we can discuss the demands all industries have for water and the ability to meet these needs.”
He says water reforms taking place in Australia aim to address issues such as competition for access, security of supply and increases in cost. LCA work will help the minerals industry contribute to this debate. “LCAs can drive the environmental debate by replacing emotion with objectivity and information, allowing groups with different objectives to find common ground in approaching a problem like increasing demand for water.”
The full story can be found in the February issue of Process, which will be released on Wednesday 31 January 2007. A pdf of the magazine is available now at:
Other stories in Process include:
Anode coating is reducing airburn: a simple, cost-effective barrier coating that protects carbon anodes from air burn during aluminium smelting has passed initial trials under cell conditions.
R&D crucial in curbing carbon emissions: innovation in steel and aluminium production offers the greatest potential to reduce emissions in the minerals industry.
Bioanode beginnings: replacing petroleum coke and coal tar pitch with carbon alternatives could help improve supply and quality issues for the aluminium industry, and offset carbon.
Micro-scanning helps build titanium process: a specialised tomography scanning system is helping optimise the TiRO process for titanium production.
Unearthing microbial secrets: researchers are exploring ways to harness the power of microbes to process low-grade ores in small or remote deposits.
Minimising minors: a new beneficiation flowsheet could help unlock the value in ores containing high levels of minor elements.
- CSIRO has found that the economic value per cubic metre of water consumed by the minerals industry exceeds that of the agricultural and industrial sectors, supporting the view that allocating water to the minerals industry has a strong underlying economic basis
- At an average value of $80 per cubic metre, the economic value of water used by the minerals industry is higher than that of the industrial sector (averaging about $40/m³) and the agricultural industry (averaging about $5/m³)
- The full story can be found in the February issue of Process, which will be released on Wednesday 31 January 2007