This paper presents the results of an investigation carried out on the impacts of cobalt extraction process using a life cycle assessment by considering a cradle-to-gate system. Life cycle inventory data was collected from the EcoInvent and Australian Life cycle assessment database (AusLCI) and analysis were performed using SimaPro software employing the International Reference Life Cycle Data System (ILCD) method, and Cumulative Energy Demand method (CED) for per kg of cobalt production. Several impact categories are considered in the analysis i.e. global warming, ozone depletion, eutrophication, land use, water use, fossil fuels, minerals, human toxicity, ecotoxicity, and cumulative energy demand. The analysis results indicate that among the impact categories, eutrophication and global warming impacts are noteworthy. Medium voltage electricity used in cobalt production and the blasting operation appears to be causing most of the impact and emission into the environment. The sensitivity analysis was carried out using three different case scenarios by altering the electricity generation sources of UCTE (Synchronous Grid of Continental Europe) to investigate the proportional variation of impact analysis results. Furthermore, the impacts caused by cobalt production are compared with nickel and copper production processes to reveal their relative impacts on the environment and ecosystems.
Bibliographical noteCopyright the Publisher 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.
- Life cycle assessment
- Environmental impact
- Cobalt extraction