Rigamonti, Lucia; Cecere, Giuseppe

This study is part of a broader research of the EU Horizon 2020 programme, i.e., FineFuture project (grant 821265) which aims at developing ground-breaking technological solutions for significantly improving the fine particle flotation to increase the recovery of valuable materials that are currently lost into tailings. The FineFuture project is advancing the fundamental understanding of fine particle flotation and the new froth flotation technologies are going to be applied to different metals (copper, manganese, and magnesite). At the same time, it becomes crucial to measure the impacts of consuming resources and energy to support cleaner productions and environmentally sound decisions in next years. To this end, life cycle thinking – based tools represent an attractive opportunity to the mineral sector. Here, the focus is on the sustainability assessment of the implementation of the new technologies. All the three dimensions of the sustainability (i.e., environmental, economic, and social) are under assessment through the application of the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), Social LCA and Life Cycle Costing methodologies. The research has faced some challenges due to the application of the sustainability assessment to a technology that is still under development (the so-called emerging technologies). In the presentation we would like to explain these challenges and how we have tackled them. For example, a participatory approach involving the industrial partners of the project has been adopted to properly set the system boundaries and the function of the emerging technology. In this way, four case studies have been identified covering the different minerals and beneficiation process lines. Moreover, one of the major issues is to properly identify the full-scale industrial applications that are likely to occur in the future: to tackle the uncertainty related to the future commercial implementations, a range of possible future scenarios has been defined.