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Mining anthropogenic and geological deposits: evaluating the accessibility of scarce metals from End of Life products and the Earth’s Crust under sustainability considerations

Mining anthropogenic and geological deposits: evaluating the accessibility of scarce metals from End of Life products and the Earth’s Crust under sustainability considerations
Mining anthropogenic and geological deposits: evaluating the accessibility of scarce metals from End of Life products and the Earth’s Crust under sustainability considerations
This thesis includes three main chapters with the aim to develop a methodological framework for characterising and evaluating the accessibility of End of Life (EoL) products and the Earth’s Crust. Chapter 4 presents a novel characterisation and evaluation of End of Life products by means of ‘geological’ approaches that are based on mining deposits of the geosphere (MDG). For method development of the characterisation and evaluation, four expert workshops were implemented. The results showed an innovative and systematic characterisation of the ‘geological setting’ of a deposit. Further, the results demonstrated a pioneering evaluation of the knowledge and certainty (geological knowledge) by means of the UNFC classification. The characterisation and evaluation was applied on three case studies of mining deposits of the anthroposphere (MDA), which provides a basis for Chapter 5 and highlighted the need for further research.

Chapter 5 presents the methodological framework that investigates the characterisation and evaluation of both MDA and MDG by investigating the prerequisite for recovery: accessibility. The accessibility evaluation was developed by means of a quantitative linguistic concept extraction. This framework was elucidated and then applied to analyse three anthropogenic and one geological deposits. The results of the linguistic investigation showed that accessibility is at the semantic intersection of ‘availability’ and ‘approachability’. The later terminology and its concept were not yet used, which poses a novel aspect of this study. The results of applying the accessibility evaluation demonstrated that an active mining operation and subsequent processing of rare earth elements showed ‘moderate’ approachability regarding ‘society’ and ‘environment’ and ‘high’ availability. Conversely, three REE case studies from MDA demonstrated as not being accessible in early project development.

In Chapter 6, the accessibility evaluation was refined and confirmed by means of a Delphi survey that involved 48 experts. This resulted in a consolidated framework that was based on 12 applied (semi-) quantitative indicators. These results of four case studies showed ‘lower’ accessibility for knowledge and certainty (geological knowledge) of MDA. Further, the results of ‘economy’, ‘society’ and ‘environment’ indicated a clear discrepancy between developed and developing countries. This novel in formation enables policy makers to make informed decisions that could highlight the potential for in depth investigations to secure material supply in the long-term. However, the results also emphasised there is little high quality underlying data along the supply chain and within waste management.

Overall, this thesis presents a novel, innovative and practical methodological framework that can provide valuable knowledge to support decision makers at the government level in characterising and evaluating the accessibility of both EoL products and the Earth’s crust under sustainability considerations.
University of Southampton
Mueller, Sandra
7cc105c7-8a34-466e-a068-faabd6b5ab81
Mueller, Sandra
7cc105c7-8a34-466e-a068-faabd6b5ab81
Williams, Ian
c9d674ac-ee69-4937-ab43-17e716266e22

Mueller, Sandra (2018) Mining anthropogenic and geological deposits: evaluating the accessibility of scarce metals from End of Life products and the Earth’s Crust under sustainability considerations. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 528pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

This thesis includes three main chapters with the aim to develop a methodological framework for characterising and evaluating the accessibility of End of Life (EoL) products and the Earth’s Crust. Chapter 4 presents a novel characterisation and evaluation of End of Life products by means of ‘geological’ approaches that are based on mining deposits of the geosphere (MDG). For method development of the characterisation and evaluation, four expert workshops were implemented. The results showed an innovative and systematic characterisation of the ‘geological setting’ of a deposit. Further, the results demonstrated a pioneering evaluation of the knowledge and certainty (geological knowledge) by means of the UNFC classification. The characterisation and evaluation was applied on three case studies of mining deposits of the anthroposphere (MDA), which provides a basis for Chapter 5 and highlighted the need for further research.

Chapter 5 presents the methodological framework that investigates the characterisation and evaluation of both MDA and MDG by investigating the prerequisite for recovery: accessibility. The accessibility evaluation was developed by means of a quantitative linguistic concept extraction. This framework was elucidated and then applied to analyse three anthropogenic and one geological deposits. The results of the linguistic investigation showed that accessibility is at the semantic intersection of ‘availability’ and ‘approachability’. The later terminology and its concept were not yet used, which poses a novel aspect of this study. The results of applying the accessibility evaluation demonstrated that an active mining operation and subsequent processing of rare earth elements showed ‘moderate’ approachability regarding ‘society’ and ‘environment’ and ‘high’ availability. Conversely, three REE case studies from MDA demonstrated as not being accessible in early project development.

In Chapter 6, the accessibility evaluation was refined and confirmed by means of a Delphi survey that involved 48 experts. This resulted in a consolidated framework that was based on 12 applied (semi-) quantitative indicators. These results of four case studies showed ‘lower’ accessibility for knowledge and certainty (geological knowledge) of MDA. Further, the results of ‘economy’, ‘society’ and ‘environment’ indicated a clear discrepancy between developed and developing countries. This novel in formation enables policy makers to make informed decisions that could highlight the potential for in depth investigations to secure material supply in the long-term. However, the results also emphasised there is little high quality underlying data along the supply chain and within waste management.

Overall, this thesis presents a novel, innovative and practical methodological framework that can provide valuable knowledge to support decision makers at the government level in characterising and evaluating the accessibility of both EoL products and the Earth’s crust under sustainability considerations.

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Sandra Regina Mueller PhD Thesis re-submitted - Version of Record
Available under License University of Southampton Thesis Licence.
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Published date: October 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 430408
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/430408
PURE UUID: 1fa16315-0cc7-445a-949f-3446ac5f8c6c
ORCID for Ian Williams: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-0121-1219

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Date deposited: 30 Apr 2019 16:30
Last modified: 30 Nov 2020 05:01

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Contributors

Author: Sandra Mueller
Thesis advisor: Ian Williams ORCID iD

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