Life cycle assessments of the mining and mineral processing of iron ore, bauxite and copper concentrate were carried out, focussing on embodied energy and greenhouse gas emissions. The results showed that loading and hauling make the largest contributions to the total greenhouse gas emissions for the mining and processing of iron ore and bauxite. In the case of copper ore, the crushing and grinding steps make the largest contribution to the total greenhouse gas emissions for the production of copper concentrate. These results indicate that efforts to reduce the increased greenhouse gas emissions from mining and mineral processing, anticipated in the future as a result of falling ore grades and more ﬁner-grained deposits, should focus on loading and hauling for iron ore and bauxite, while for copper ore the focus should be on grinding. There are a number of new and emerging technologies that could be expected to assist in this task, and these include high pressure grinding rolls and stirred mills for grinding, and further advances in diesel engine technology for loading and hauling applications.
Journal of Cleaner Production 18 (2010) 266–274