Environmental availability of raw materials

The availability of raw materials is more than technical-geological, economic and political factors alone. The ÖkoRess assessment method developed by the German Environment Agency is the first proposal of a method for companies, civil society groups and public authorities to assess the environmental hazards of raw materials and mining projects and identify environmentally critical raw materials.

In industrialized countries with resource-intensive processing industries like Germany, the demands for transparency in raw material supply. The mining sector is no longer the blind spot in global supply chains. At the same time social-environmental conflicts and anti-mining protests are on the rise at the end of global value chains. Increasingly, the global mining sector is implementing high environmental standards on a voluntary basis and commodity-rich countries.

This development is affecting the global markets for raw materials. Not only do not have the same technical, economic and political aspects. This trend towards higher environmental standards in mining is likely, in the medium term, to cause a rise in raw material prices as a result of higher production costs and shortage in the environmental availability of raw materials. A recent example is the rise in the price of nickel.

The heated discussion takes place since 2008 about the criticality of raw materials. Concern what is the price of the goods. The raw materials are considered to include rare earths, indium, niobium or the platinum group metals. Earlier studies on criticality. Raw materials are considered to be environmentally critical.

A research consortium whose members are from the Öko-Institut, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (ifeu) and project-consult-developed a method to assess the environmental hazard of a research project (ÖkoRess I) for the English Environment Agency. First a site-related evaluation model was developed, and a raw material evaluation model was subsequently derived. The current follow-up project ÖkoRess II (ÖkoRess I consortium plus Adelphi-Consult) is developing the method further and is being applied to about 50 mining resources. The results will be published at the end of 2018.

CONTINUE READING ON www.umweltbundesamt.de (Automatically translated from German)


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