MO.1.A || Life Cycle Approaches in the Raw Materials Sector

Fiorletta, Mathilde; Lai, Frédéric; Bonnemaison, Michel; Garcia, Jade; Osset, Philippe

Even if mines activities are not threatened in a near future (Elshkaki et al., 2018), this industry can cause serious damages on the environment. In LCA, many databases exist, identifying the environmental impacts associated with the exploitation of a wide range of raw materials. This data can have a considerable influence on LCI results. The SCORE LCA Association mandated Vertech, BRGM and E-mines to conduct a study to check how and to what extent the complex framework of mining activities is represented in the currently available LCA databases and if complementary information exist to overcome the identified limitations. The analysis was conducted based on 6 main parameters: access to data and transparency, representativeness, obsolescence, allocation, completeness and scope and likelihood. The LCA databases analyzed in this study are ecoinvent, GaBi, the ELCD node and possible PEF/OEF studies. The materials under the scope are copper, aluminum, lithium, rare earth, platinum group metals, cobalt, cadmium and nickel. Some limitations of the LCA databases describing mining activities have been identified and will be presented during the conference, including concerning allocations, transparency, documentation and representativeness (geographical and technological). Given these limitations, recommendations are provided particularly on the functional unit, the scope and correct use of the databases. A flowchart to guide the selection of LCA databases processes when analyzing the production of a product will be proposed during the conference. The literature review also provides inventory data that could be used as an alternative or complement to the LCA databases.