The negative impact of the mining industries on climate change, human health and ecosystems, arises from extensive use of fossil fuels. This could be mitigated by the integration of solar energy systems into mining processes, such as the use of solar industrial process heating systems in low-temperature mining processes. This paper estimates the resultant environmental impacts, which could result from the partial use of solar process heating in the aluminum, copper, ilmenite, rutile, lead, nickel, and uranium mining and extraction processes. The extensive analysis presented here contains multiple scenarios such as using flat plate solar collector and evacuated tube solar collector for process heat generation, including the base case scenario using fossil fuels. The novel analysis has quantified the overall reduction of environmental impacts on different categories of aquatic ecotoxicity, terrestrial ecotoxicity, carcinogens, non-carcinogens, and global warming. The analysis is done using SimaPro (version 8.5) utilising the IMPACT 2002 + method for 15 midpoints indicator-based categories and four endpoint indicator-based categories. The analysis results reveal valuable information regarding comparative impacts between the two types of solar collector considered and show that evacuated tube collectors would be more beneficial for environmental emission reduction.
- Solar industrial process heat
- Mining industries
- Mining and extraction
- Life cycle assessment